2007/03/28

Shopping Wisdom Part 1 - Use Canvas

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors took the groundbreaking step yesterday of banning the use of plastic bags at the City's groceries and pharmacies. The move was vigorously opposed by the California Grocer's Association who are warning of higher prices for shoppers and in a fit of pique are threatening to go back to paper bags rather than offer compostable bags that cost about the same.

Even our local newspaper, The Chronicle, jumped in with an editorial that lauded the plan and predicted that consumers will demand bio-degradable bags, but you know what I think... Bullsh*t! Consumers will continue to take whatever they're given because this plan, though a good start, puts the focus on the wrong players, businesses. Grocers use plastic because it's cheap, and they will continue to offer the cheapest solution that satisfies the law. That's recyclable paper, not compostable paper.

So what should we be doing? Encouraging everyone to use durable canvas shopping bags...that's what! No disposable bag is ever going to be as good as a bag that can be used thousands of times. I personally have three of varying sizes, one of which I've been using since 1988. I should get a freakin' rebate from the grocers. Oops...actually...I do! So maybe the Supes should have encouraged everyone to use their own bags by subsidizing a larger rebate--maybe bump it up to $.50 for each bag of your own that you use. How about that?

15 Comments:

Since I can remember, my aunt in Germany always brought a canvas bag to the grocery store. My wife got a couple when we were there last and she uses 'em too. They last forever, saves trees, and keeps plastic bags off the street.
I used woven straw bags when shopping at the marches in north Africa in the '80s. I still use one occcasionally. It doesn't cut my fingers off when carrying heavy canned good and gallons of milk and juices like the plastic ones do, or require 4 arms like paper bags do. I am in favor of reusable bags.

Re: your comment on my blog. Our multicolored frog is right on the money, as usual. The Brits are perfectly capable of kicking a** and roller skating when the spirit moves them. Thank you for your input.
Fixer... Welcome to Blognonymous. I'm continually amazed at how mine last and last. There isn't much I can't haul in 'em. Though I do get strange looks at Target.

Worried... Straw, canvas, hell even plastic, as long as they're made to last. That last part is the key. Just not that flimsy sh*t they foist on us.
Brilliant! Write this in to the local papers and see if it flys. I go to one discount store that will sell you plastic bags at 10 cents per bag if you don't bring your own. They also stack up boxes from shipments and you can use those rather than bags.
Canvas bags to replace paper bags?

What for? Canvas is made from cotton and paper comes from trees. Both grow in abundance. Renewable.

Would it bother anyone here if the cotton for the canvas bags was grown and processed in another country, say, one that isn't known for respecting human rights?

Trees aren't disappearing from the American landscape. They are, however, disappearing from the landscape of poor countries where the residents use them for firewood and don't bother with replanting.

Deforestation is a big problem in many countries. But not the US. Yet we harvest trees like wheat. And grow new trees.

What makes cotton/canvas bags a better choice than paper bags?
What makes cotton/canvas bags a better choice than paper bags?

You're not seriously going to argue this point are you, no_slappz? Oh well...

In a word...durability. Over it's lifetime, I can haul...oh say...a thousand loads of stuff at double or triple the capacity of a paper bag. So, maybe 2000 paper bags saved? That's probably 2 or 3 trees and all the resources that went into manufacturing the paper. Or...if we're talking plastic say 10,000 plastic bags, which equates to 43 gallons of petroleum and the resources used in the manufacturing process.

And that doesn't even take into account transportation to the stores, storage, and other wasted resources.

Your's is exactly the attitude that we need to be changing. "It's renewable so who the f*ck cares how much of it I use," without giving a moment's thought to what other resources go into the process.
I solve the problem by always having my backpack handy.

Making paper bags doesn't involve just cutting down trees. You have to process the celulose. Some substances used in the process aren't very "bioeco".
"maybe bump it up to $.50 for each bag of your own that you use"
How about that? Can you imagine the drama of arranging markups to cover the generous rebate?
My guess is that you would end up paying more in hidden margins. But then I'm a cynic who believes they will make their margins regardless of anything.

As an aside, I'm fascinated by an ad here offering 25% off canvas tents. We are trying to work out which 25% they are going to leave off - the roof?
Rumonov... Another good point. Though I suspect that there are some fairly unfriendly chemicals used in the manufacturing of canvas bags as well. Of course, you only need to go through that once.

Cartledge... Well, I am contractually forbidden from encouraging anyone to go and find out what they might mean by that 25% listing. However, purely as a public service, I'm compelled to point out that if one were to click the ad, then all would be made clear.
ooh, I LIKE Peacechick's idea! If stores no longer provided bags N/C, if they actually CHARGED the consumer ___ cents per bag, you can damn well bet that we would all be bringing in our own bags! A lot of people perceive rebates to be a hassle, but an extra charge? Great Incentive to BYOB! ~~ D.K.
kvatch,

If you're truly worried about the fate of trees, stop reading newspapers, books, magazines and office memos. Fight junk mail. Send e-mails instead of paper mail. Replace all paper correspondence with electronic correspondence.

Have you noticed how many books pile up in a Barnes & Noble? Have you noticed how much paper is consumed as packaging?

Don't buy a house built of wood. Don't buy a wood-burning stove or wooden furniture, even if it's made of particle board.

Paper bags account for very little of global paper consumption.
Another argument to bring your own bag is to get organized a little. People go and buy one (1!) yoghurt and get a bag to carry the damn thing.
If canvas bags are a thousand times more durable that paper bags it's because they're made of a product that's many times more massive than a single-use paper bag.

That means the creation of canvas bags requires more of everything that goes into creating a paper bag.

It's worth knowing if there are any savings from a proliferation of canvas bags that would replace paper bags.
I remember to use my canvas (plastic woven as far as I can tell) just about half the time I go to the store.

Even at that, it sure beats accumulating ever more of those recyclable plastic bags which I never remember to take to the center.

Add a comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link