Thursday, June 28, 2007

R.I.P. Plastic Grocery Sacks

Rather than talking about sewing bags today, I want to pause to mention all the changes happening where I live in California regarding plastic grocery bags.

As of July 1, a new law goes into effect here, Assembly Bill AB 2449, requiring large companies to provide recycling bins for plastic bags.
The aim of the Bill is to reduce litter, as this plastic does not decompose in landfills.

Some local grocery chains already have this service, but Costco has decided to eliminate using the non-biodegradable bags altogether.

Some shoppers will be bringing their own bags to the stores now.
Some people are hoping consumers opt for reusable tote bags, even expensive designer versions.

Evidently to most folks in Europe and Australia, this is old news.
They've been using their own bags for years.
I've spoken with some of you via email who live in the eastern United States,
and you've got those bags in your car trunks too.
We've just got to retrain our spoiled selves also.

Reusable tote bags may be the best option.
There is some question as to which manufacturing process produces the most environmentally sensitive bag--the cotton, or the corn, or the....

Jen of The Felt Mouse just mentioned the reusable bags sold at Target stores.

I prefer the smaller 99 cent totes sold by Trader Joes.

The Bag Snob is eagerly anticipating the bag made my Anya Hindmarch.

Read about it here and here.

Post about Envirosax from Brownie Points.

Cal Arts students sew their own totes, as seen on the blog Core 77.

Reusable Bags for sale.
Also Envirotote.

Interesting article by The Seattle Times.
Similar stories by Fox News, and the Honolulu Advisor.

Or here is the complete article by Jane Adams from the Chicago Tribune. Good stuff!

Green is the new black --in grocery bags
Fashionistas promote eco-chic totes as cities look at banning non-biodegradable plastic

By Jane Meredith Adams
Special to the Tribune

June 25, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO -- Plastic grocery bags are out.

They're not just being banned from large grocery stores here -- which a new law mandates will happen before it's time to buy a Thanksgiving turkey -- but out as in outmoded. In a merger of environmental concern and fashion sensibility, big-name designers are introducing eco-chic grocery totes, while lawmakers in New York, Boston, Phoenix, Los Angeles and elsewhere debate San Francisco-style bans on non-biodegradable, petroleum-based plastic bags.

These green fashionistas hope to lure the style-conscious into a nationwide anti-plastic-bag frenzy egged on by, of all forces, the fashion bible Vogue magazine. "Today, let us go out and harness the power of fashion to change the way the nation shops," contributing editor Sarah Mower wrote in last month's edition. "One stylish act of rebellion in supermarkets, delis, drugstores and designer emporiums and at market stalls is all it takes: Say no to plastic bags."

The goal is to make it chic to bring your own bag, be it a Hermes $960 Silky Pop grocery tote, due out this summer, or a $1 Whole Foods green bag, said Claire White, editor of It's been estimated that plastic bags take up to 1,000 years to degrade in landfills. "Eventually everyone is going to end up reusing grocery bags," White wrote in an e-mail. "The only question is when."

Roughly 100 billion plastic bags are buried in landfills each year in the U.S., according to Worldwatch Institute, an environmental research agency.

On Thursday, British designer Anya Hindmarch released 20,000 of her limited-edition "I'm not a plastic bag" cotton totes in the U.S., as 90,000 bag-hungry consumers competed in a lottery for the privilege of buying the $15 bag, according to Kelly Cook, co-owner of When an earlier version of the bag was spotted on the arm of actress Keira Knightley, the tote became a must-have item, said Cook, and the panache has only been enhanced by the fact that most of Hindmarch's other shoulder bags sport a $1,000 price tag.

Also due out this summer in supermarket couture is Stella McCartney's $495 organic cotton canvas shopping bag and Consuelo Castiglioni of Marni's $843 collapsible nylon grocery tote.

Meanwhile in San Francisco, shoppers appear to be using everything from Trader Joe's $1.99 Hawaiian print totes to their bare hands, as was the case with a man who shunned a paper bag and carried a container of edamame beans to his car from Real Foods in the city's Marina district. That's good preparation for Nov. 20, when large supermarkets in San Francisco will have the option of providing customers only with paper bags or compostable bags made of cornstarch.

Andrea Arria-Devoe, the San Francisco editor of the style Web site, grocery shops with two green Whole Foods totes. "My husband and I got into a fight about it, because he mindlessly accepts plastic bags. Now he refuses them with 'My wife will kill me.' "

San Francisco is the first city in the U.S. to opt for the bag ban.

The law, passed in March, affects large supermarkets and drugstores. Small stores will still be able to pack customers' goods in plastic. The pharmacy bag ban takes effect later.

The 50 grocery stores that would be most affected had argued that the ban was not reasonable because plastic bags made of corn byproducts are a relatively new, expensive and untested product. Some said they might offer only paper bags at checkout.

Rainbow Grocery, a vegetarian emporium, has never offered plastic bags to customers. Outside recently, art student Ying Hsiao wore a handsome messenger bag slung across her back and prepared to fill it with bounty. "I started bringing my own bag about four years ago, when I became vegan," she said.

Poised to pedal off on his bike, Philip Watson carried a half-gallon of soy milk, yogurt, a hunk of kale, and oranges and apples on his back in a sturdy backpack, while Michelle Menegaz and her daughters, Eva and Gabi, wheeled out provisions in three large canvas bags. But canvas wasn't an ecologically perfect choice either, Menegaz noted. "Cotton is extremely resource intensive," she said.

"I'm going to miss the plastic bags when they go away," said Diana Shook, who carried frozen hash browns and other supplies in a blue and white canvas tote. "I use them to clean out the kitty litter."

When consumers bring their designer bags into the supermarket, will they really be loading them up with melting ice cream and slabs of salmon? Cook of has a confession. "I had my Anya bag when I went to the market, and it was so cute that I have to admit, when the guy was bagging my chicken, I said, you'd better not," she said. She took the plastic, for now.

Tribune news services contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune

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Anonymous Mary said...

I actually just took part in a big reusable grocery tote co-op with some friends. Together we bought nearly 600 bags!

June 28, 2007 at 7:14 PM  
Blogger Dora said...

I like your blog! Beautiful bags and soooo many information!!
Thank you

June 29, 2007 at 12:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great blog, great reading. I am off to crotchet my plastic grocery bags as gifts. In return, I am asking for bag donations so I can keep making them to give them away.

July 6, 2007 at 4:50 AM  
Blogger Jane said...

Great info! I just copied a new Target tote that has a zipper pocket that forms a pouch. The pouch is super easy to stash in your purse or car so that you always have a reusable bag handy. I made mine out of old sheets to make it even "greener." Since it is for a swap, I am keeping the pics under wraps for a bit longer.

July 9, 2007 at 8:00 PM  

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