Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Ban the Bag! Sign The Petition

A blog reader sent me the following link and post to an online petition to ban plastic bags in grocery stores all across the country. I think making our voices heard on this subject is important, and this, along with sending it to your representatives in Washington, is a good way to do it.

Here's the link to the petition, and below is a letter from them explaining why a ban is important.


This is a petition intended to urge all CEOs of major U.S. supermarkets to completely eliminate plastic grocery store bags.

On January 22, 2008, Whole Foods Market, the global leader in the natural and organic foods market space, formally announced that it will permanently end the use of all disposable plastic grocery store bags. This decision affects all of its 270 stores, and is set to be completed by Earth Day, or April 22, 2008. We at Green Eggs and Planet (http://www.greeneggsandplanet.com), are fully behind this small but significant step forward in terms of global consciousness and environmental awareness. And this got us to thinking.

What about the rest of the super markets and grocery stores out there across the land? What are they waiting for?

We don't believe that it should only be the province of the environmentally aware, eco-friendly "organic" or "health" food store, regardless of how large and seemingly important Whole Foods may have become in recent years. Those of us who have awoken to the reality of the planet's state, rather unfortunately, still represent only a growing minority. The fact of the matter is that the issue at hand, specifically that of eliminating plastic bags from use across the country, is a concern for all people -- whether they realize it yet or not. The time, however, is now.

Many of us have begun to notice a small change creeping up in our local grocery stores and super markets -- with some stores currently offering alternatives at the checkout stand. It's no longer just "Paper or plastic?" -- now there's also a re-useable bag for sale, typically around 99 cents, silently and awkwardly perched somewhere within arm's reach, quietly vying with the entertainment rags and candy racks for your attention. More often than not, however, nobody at the grocery store is educating the consumer, offering the re-useable option as the only way to go, serving up the exact reasons behind why making that decision is so potentially important.

Here are the facts:

-- According to the Environmental Protection Agency, we consume over 380 billion plastic bags, sacks and wraps in the United States alone, every year.

-- In the U.S., consumers throw away about 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually, with an estimated cost to retailers at $4 billion.

-- Plastic bags are petroleum based, and they litter countless landfills, often taking more than a thousand years to break down. This means that polymers of literally every single bag ever produced still exist somewhere, in some smaller form, on our planet.

-- It takes over 400,000 gallons of crude oil to produce 100 million plastic bags. Less than 1% of these will be recycled.

-- Hundreds of thousands of seabirds and marine mammals, including whales and sea turtles, die every year from eating discarded plastic bags that they mistake for food.

-- Plastic bags don’t actually biodegrade; instead, they constantly break down into smaller and smaller toxic bits (photodegrade). In the process, they contaminate soil and waterways. Eventually, they are accidentally eaten by many animals, and end up in the food chain, later to be consumed in many cases by humans.

-- Despite efforts to reuse and recycle, studies have shown that plastic bags are consistently among the twelve items of debris most often found in coastal cleanups (Center for Marine Conservation).

Many other countries have banned or actively discourage the use of plastic bags, including Australia, Ireland, Italy, Taiwan and more. Still others have instituted a tax on all plastic bags that get used at the grocery stores. Mumbai has formally banned the use of plastic bags since 2005.

A little bit of consciousness and simple, practical action can go a long way if all consumers make the choice to abandon plastic bags, make their voices heard with their super market and grocery store corporations and make the switch to re-useable shopping bags. Whole Foods estimates that from May to December of 2008, they will be preventing 100 million disposable plastic bags from entering the environment.

The goal now is to confront all other CEOs of major grocery store chains with this evidence, with Whole Foods example, and with our voices -- and a demand for change and a new collective policy towards the environment. Time is running out.

Take a minute to sign this e-petition, and spread the word. Copy and paste the link from the petition, and pass it along to all of your friends.

When we reach a significant amount of signatures whose collective voice will have the ability to make an impact, we will then draft a formal letter along with this petition, and send it to all major U.S. super market CEOs and leadership.

This includes:
The Vons Companies, Inc.
Albertsons LLC
Ralphs Grocery Company
Safeway Inc.
The Kroger Co.
Gelson's and Mayfair (Arden Group, Inc.)
D'Agostino Supermarkets, Inc.
Pathmark Stores, Inc.

With your help, we will reach that number of signatures quickly, and foster positive environmental change.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for helping to get the word out there! It's going to take a tiny bit of effort from many people to get this thing done!

Anonymous said...

The economics are against such a ban succeeding and people want their free plastic bags that work so well. No store is going to stop giving those things away when they'll end up loosing business to another store that will give away free plastic bags. Whole Foods isn't driven by price and convenience like most other grocery stores and serves a tiny portion of the market.

I'm not buying those numbers either. 380 billion bags costing $4 billion doesn't seem right. Of those 380 billion, a 100 billion are tossed but only 1% of all bags are recycled - where's 270 billion or so of the rest of the bags. Whole Foods was using a 100 million bags in 8 months?

If you really want to change the situation an alternative that people want will be needed. Maybe instead of making ethanol from corn that really amounts to a net loss when you factor in the rise in the cost of food, make plastic like bags that degrade like paper.

two cents _ _ jB

Dave said...

Hey JB,
Good to hear from you again. Do you think people would really shop at one store versus another based on bags? It seems to me that most do so because of convenience, choice, price, etc, but not bags. I'm not sure i understand why you don't think cloth re-usables are a good alternative. I pretty much use them exclusively and have for years and see no down side. I will admit it took a bit of re-training to remember to bring them but now I''ll have them sometimes and realize i forgot my wallet (perhaps some more training on that level is called for).


Anonymous said...

Well if you allow that form follows function, then the typical grocery store plastic bag is elegant. It costs pennies to the pound for the store, takes little space, is of very little weight and functions quite nicely for schlepping groceries out to and from the car or on the bus or just walking home. Given all other things being equal, yes, the store that gives away the convenient plastic bags for carrying away purchases is going to have an advantage over the store that doesn't. What's not to like?

As far as my shunning re-usable cloth bags, I'm sure they can work quite well for certain personalities and life styles but when I think back to my days of getting around on the bus in LA or when I was working all day and going to night school afterwards, one more thing to schlep about and sooner or later loose along the way just seems like one more burden that I could live without. Then I imagine those households of two working parents or the single working mother. People in that situation tend to be highly organized by necessity and plan things well in advance. They can ill afford to forget their cloth bags while finding a victory in just remembering to get cat food.

It's not like the plastic bags can't be re-used or re-purposed. This household uses them in lieu of trash bags and they're damn handy for cat box duty. We might find other purposes if they weren't so flimsy. This two person household goes through a lot of them at something like 15 a week which amounts to 780 a year which translates to about 7.8 billion for every man, woman and, child in the US at a population of 300 million.

While 7.8 billion is quite a lot, it's not quite the number cited previously. We pick up some bags off the street and out off of the foliage and have seen them floating out in the ocean 25 miles off shore. I don't believe we can go on defecating [using the latin term because god forbid someone use English] in our own back yards and still want to live there for long but, human nature as it is, and big brother policies as undesirable as they are, it strikes me that the only sensible path forward is a technological improvement in the bags themselves. While there is the danger of unintentional consequences inherent in any new technology, that risk beats the snot out of yet one more fing [look out, that english is creeping in] law that treats only the symptom but not the cause. People are people and we are only going to continue to waste, litter and, pollute. Given that, we can waste, litter and pollute hazardous materials like batteries and energy efficient light bulbs or maybe something more benign like paper bags and crumpled newspaper packaging.

two jaded cents _ _ jB