Author Topic: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't  (Read 5053 times)

tampaite

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Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« on: May 27, 2019, 09:48:02 AM »
Given that, Americans use 100 billion plastic bags a year which initself is a ridiculous number - why do grocery/department stores continue to offer the single-use plastic bags(we try to re-use it to bag kitchen waste etc but it's cannot be reused or recyled later)

Curious - why do stores like Walmart, Publix. JCPenney etc continue to offer them where as stores like Costco or IKEA don't?

I know this topic can get out of hand so please limit discussion to "economic incentive" stores have in providing bags and how we can change their behavior.

Also, pls don't make suggestion on using a tote bag etc - discussion is around how to encourage stores to change their policy and not consumer behavior(that's another topic)
« Last Edit: May 27, 2019, 10:14:28 AM by tampaite »

Hirondelle

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2019, 09:49:34 AM »
In Europe they just banned giving out free single use plastic bags. Has been pretty effective.

FIREstache

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #2 on: May 27, 2019, 09:51:07 AM »
Curious - why do stores like Walmart, Publix. JCPenney etc continue to offer them

Because they can, and it's what most of their customers want for convenience.

JoJo

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2019, 09:52:16 AM »
Well for one, you're comparing stores that sell smaller goods vs. stores that sell larger goods (generally).  One item from Costco or Ikea would fill a bag, so why bag it?

tampaite

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #4 on: May 27, 2019, 10:13:50 AM »

Because they can, and it's what most of their customers want for convenience.

How so, will you stop shopping at Walmart, JCP if they stop offering plastic bags? this is BS.

Well for one, you're comparing stores that sell smaller goods vs. stores that sell larger goods (generally).  One item from Costco or Ikea would fill a bag, so why bag it?

Have you not bought any smaller items from IKEA or even Costco like groceries etc? again, I call this BS

let's focus on the "economic incentive" part - and less about customer convenience.


HomewardBound

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #5 on: May 27, 2019, 10:18:34 AM »
"...how we can change their behaviour."  Legislate a $0.25 per single use bag charge to customers.  Alternatives will pretty quickly be found.

I can't remember the last time I used a single use plastic bag.  It's so easy with a bit of forethought to not need one.  A more durable shopping bag/s that last many years, a rucksack that lasts many years...

GuitarStv

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #6 on: May 27, 2019, 10:20:59 AM »
We pay for plastic bags here in Canada (I can't remember if it's 5 cents or 25).  I'd say about half of people use reusable bags.

seattlecyclone

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #7 on: May 27, 2019, 10:28:27 AM »
Plastic bags are cheap. It's a small price for a store to pay for customer satisfaction. As long as the bags are cheap and most customers find them to be more pleasant than bringing their own bags, the stores will keep offering them. They're also terrible for the environment. Education and/or monetary penalties and/or outright bans will all help to phase them out more quickly.

FIREstache

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #8 on: May 27, 2019, 10:36:16 AM »

Because they can, and it's what most of their customers want for convenience.

How so, will you stop shopping at Walmart, JCP if they stop offering plastic bags? this is BS.

I didn't say anything about "me".  But what I stated is absolute fact.

Plastic bags are cheap. It's a small price for a store to pay for customer satisfaction. As long as the bags are cheap and most customers find them to be more pleasant than bringing their own bags, the stores will keep offering them. They're also terrible for the environment. Education and/or monetary penalties and/or outright bans will all help to phase them out more quickly.

Bingo.

Cranky

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2019, 11:16:09 AM »
IKEA and Costco And Aldi market themselves as “cheaper” and not providing bags is part of that marketing. Other stores are marketing themselves differently.

Malkynn

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #10 on: May 27, 2019, 12:54:19 PM »
We pay for plastic bags here in Canada (I can't remember if it's 5 cents or 25).  I'd say about half of people use reusable bags.

We do??

I can only think of a few grocery stores that charge for bags. No other store does. I always get funny looks when I say I don't need a bag. 

GuitarStv

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #11 on: May 27, 2019, 01:32:20 PM »
We pay for plastic bags here in Canada (I can't remember if it's 5 cents or 25).  I'd say about half of people use reusable bags.

We do??

I can only think of a few grocery stores that charge for bags. No other store does. I always get funny looks when I say I don't need a bag.

All the grocery stores in my area do it.  Maybe it's a Toronto thing?  You're right about other stores though, plastic bags galore.

PoutineLover

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #12 on: May 27, 2019, 01:49:25 PM »
In Montreal all grocery stores charge for plastic bags. They supposedly banned plastic bags, but in reality they just replaced cheap thin plastic bags with more expensive thicker plastic bags. The rules don't seem to apply to clothing stores, although I always turn down bags when they offer anyway. It's not that hard to always have reusable bags on hand, people would adapt quickly if they had to.

John Galt incarnate!

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #13 on: May 27, 2019, 02:15:46 PM »
"...how we can change their behaviour."  Legislate a $0.25 per single use bag charge to customers.  Alternatives will pretty quickly be found.

I can't remember the last time I used a single use plastic bag.  It's so easy with a bit of forethought to not need one.  A more durable shopping bag/s that last many years, a rucksack that lasts many years...

I put my groceries in a sturdy cardboard box from the produce room.

One box will  last for 6 months which is at least 26 loads.


Dicey

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #14 on: May 27, 2019, 03:34:00 PM »
Where I live, bags are 10 cents. They're heavier duty and great for reuse. I always bring my own. If I forget, I either go back to my car or only buy what I can carry.

Kris

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #15 on: May 27, 2019, 03:48:41 PM »
"...how we can change their behaviour."  Legislate a $0.25 per single use bag charge to customers.  Alternatives will pretty quickly be found.

I can't remember the last time I used a single use plastic bag.  It's so easy with a bit of forethought to not need one.  A more durable shopping bag/s that last many years, a rucksack that lasts many years...

Yep.

Unfortunately, in the backwards USA, this will not happen, because doing anything at all to combat climate change is some sort of “nanny state” overreach.

Apparently, stupidity = freedom.

Janie

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #16 on: May 27, 2019, 04:07:34 PM »
My county (in the US) has required businesses to charge customers for plastic and paper bags since 2012. Revenue from consumers who elect to pay for bags to the water quality protection fund.

v8rx7guy

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #17 on: May 27, 2019, 04:15:07 PM »
Interesting 10-minute NPR planet Money Podcast on the subject:

https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2019/04/09/711181385/are-plastic-bag-bans-garbage

Kris

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #18 on: May 27, 2019, 04:20:01 PM »
My county (in the US) has required businesses to charge customers for plastic and paper bags since 2012. Revenue from consumers who elect to pay for bags to the water quality protection fund.

Wow. I am very, very curious as to where you live! That’s awesome. Unfortunately, not sufficient, but still awesome.

OurFirstFire

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #19 on: May 27, 2019, 05:09:18 PM »
let's focus on the "economic incentive" part - and less about customer convenience.

Customer convenience is their economic incentive.  Reducing friction between the customer and the sale is rule number one of retail (economically speaking).  The danger isn't so much that people will vow to never shop at your store again, it that they'll be passing Walmart thinking "Oh I need groceries but I don't have any bags.  I guess I'll stop at Kroger instead because they have bags."

exterous

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #20 on: May 27, 2019, 06:55:08 PM »
Interesting 10-minute NPR planet Money Podcast on the subject:

https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2019/04/09/711181385/are-plastic-bag-bans-garbage

Yeah, I thought that was very interesting. I had no idea the unintended consequences of plastic bag bans could be worse until I listened to that.

I appreciate the efforts of places like Kroger to make bringing your own bags easier (Scan, bag, go)

js82

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #21 on: May 27, 2019, 07:05:02 PM »
We pay for plastic bags here in Canada (I can't remember if it's 5 cents or 25).  I'd say about half of people use reusable bags.

Japan does the same thing.  At the time I was living there, it was either 5 or 10 yen per bag.

It's a simple but effective nudge, in my opinion.  If nothing else, it's a tax to cover the costs of the externalities associated with plastic bag pollution.

MDfive21

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #22 on: May 27, 2019, 07:41:38 PM »
let's focus on the "economic incentive" part - and less about customer convenience.

Customer convenience is their economic incentive.  Reducing friction between the customer and the sale is rule number one of retail (economically speaking).  The danger isn't so much that people will vow to never shop at your store again, it that they'll be passing Walmart thinking "Oh I need groceries but I don't have any bags.  I guess I'll stop at Kroger instead because they have bags."

And no store wants to be the first one to do it and lose even a handful of sales to the slower adopters.

WSUCoug1994

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #23 on: May 27, 2019, 09:31:37 PM »
In August 2014, California became the first state to enact legislation imposing a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags at large retail stores. The bill also required a 10-cent minimum charge for recycled paper bags, reusable plastic bags, and compostable bags at certain locations

Arbitrage

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #24 on: May 28, 2019, 08:26:57 AM »
Yep, no plastic bags for us in California.  That was an annoyance for us for a while - not because we wouldn't bring our own bags, but because we re-use the plastic bags to pick up dog poop and other effluvia. 

We now get around it by using the other plastic bags that make their way down the pipeline (for instance bags for a loaf of bread) and the plastic bags they offer for produce. 

kanga1622

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #25 on: May 28, 2019, 08:39:22 AM »
Honestly, until it becomes a solid cost that the consumer is directly assessed, many people won’t change. We take the free plastic bags from Walmart and use for cleaning up after the dog or donate to a group that sends free food home with low income kids for the weekend (as they don’t have access to their free school lunch over the weekend). The food pantry is always happy to take the plastic bags as well. Many low income families don’t have reusable bags or a way to reliably bring them to the food pantry when they visit.

We do take reusable bags to the market as you get a nickel off per bag you use. I am always happy to save a little cash.

Cromacster

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #26 on: May 28, 2019, 08:52:42 AM »
The grocery store near my house used to give me $.25 off my total for each reusable bag I brought.  So I usually had my resuable bags with me.  The store changed owners and they no longer offer this incentive.  I still bring my resuable bags, but I'm not as adamant about it as I once was.  I like places that make you pay for a bag or offer an incentive to bring your own.

Without gov't involvement it will never reach broad acceptance in the US.

bacchi

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #27 on: May 28, 2019, 09:18:20 AM »
The local grocer charges a fee for plastic. I now use bread and cereal bags for cat litter. Even an empty cat food bag can be used for cat litter.

The disparity in the two studies regarding cotton bag usage is huge. One of them sets the uses at 121 and the other at 20,000. ??? The assumptions must be wildly different. I'll take a look at them later this week.

jim555

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #28 on: May 28, 2019, 09:29:51 AM »
New York is getting rid of plastic bags next March.  Too bad I used them for various things, now I will have to buy bags.

wageslave23

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #29 on: May 28, 2019, 09:42:15 AM »
Its very simple, you just ban the use of plastic bags.

tampaite

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #30 on: May 28, 2019, 09:53:02 AM »
Its very simple, you just ban the use of plastic bags.

Looks like unless local governments propose a ban, companies on their own has little to no interest in ending plastic bag usage?

lets talk about short term and long term goals

long term - we know we want to end single use plastics in USA. It's good that CA and NY are taking proactive steps but what about the rest 48 states.

short term - how do we reach out to individual companies to change their policies? Is there a grassroots organization?

GuitarStv

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #31 on: May 28, 2019, 09:59:20 AM »
long term - we know we want to end single use plastics in USA. It's good that CA and NY are taking proactive steps but what about the rest 48 states.

Gonna be a tough sell in the south, where most politicians getting elected have been telling their coal rollin' constituents what liars all environmentalists are for decades.

Sibley

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #32 on: May 28, 2019, 10:15:08 AM »
I'm ok with phasing out plastic grocery bags. However, before that happens, I need someone to tell me what I'm going to use to clean out the litterbox. Currently, I use the plastic bags.

v8rx7guy

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #33 on: May 28, 2019, 10:18:25 AM »
I'm ok with phasing out plastic grocery bags. However, before that happens, I need someone to tell me what I'm going to use to clean out the litterbox. Currently, I use the plastic bags.

This exact issue is covered in the podcast I linked above.  Banning plastic bags from grocery stores spiked the purchasing of thicker 3gal and 6gal bags. 

afox

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #34 on: May 28, 2019, 10:38:08 AM »
The assault on plastic garbage bags is the perfect ammunition for RWNJs and it does little to save anyone (the businesses or the customers) money and does little to help the environment. This energy could have a much better economic and environmental impact if we were to enact stricter regulations on very expensive and very detrimental environmental activities such as reducing fuel usage for transportation, and reducing food waste, or improving efficiency for buildings. But noone wants to drive less, drive a smaller car, ride a bike, live in a smaller house, fly less, etc. Those things are extremely unpopular!

From: https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2019/04/09/711181385/are-plastic-bag-bans-garbage
"you would have to use an organic cotton bag 20,000 times more than a plastic grocery bag to make using it better for the environment."

Just as the findings in the article suggest, I have to buy plastic bags as businesses stop giving them away. I have never thrown away a plastic shopping bag that was not used at least twice (once for transporting items from store to home and once to hold and transport my garbage). It is less convenient and more costly to use reusable bags. Since I need a lot of reusable bags there is no way I will ever use a bag 20,000 times.

bacchi

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #35 on: May 28, 2019, 11:04:36 AM »
From: https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2019/04/09/711181385/are-plastic-bag-bans-garbage
"you would have to use an organic cotton bag 20,000 times more than a plastic grocery bag to make using it better for the environment."

So, you ignored the OTHER study mentioned in the same paragraph, which found a use of 121x.

Was that intentional? Or were you in a hurry and skimmed over the article?

Samuel

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #36 on: May 28, 2019, 11:08:02 AM »
I'm ok with phasing out plastic grocery bags. However, before that happens, I need someone to tell me what I'm going to use to clean out the litterbox. Currently, I use the plastic bags.

This exact issue is covered in the podcast I linked above.  Banning plastic bags from grocery stores spiked the purchasing of thicker 3gal and 6gal bags.

I just put a lot of meat or produce in produce bags that don't actually need to be in a bag. Luckily biodegradable produce bags are starting to show up, which are perfect for this reuse.

Cromacster

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #37 on: May 28, 2019, 11:12:42 AM »
The biggest eye opener for me was when we started seriously composting in my house.  Food scraps, paper scraps, chicken bones, etc etc.  It pretty much halved the amount of garbage we were putting on the curb.  Ironically, a normal weeks worth of garbage now fit's in a plastic grocery store bag.

I have two resusable bags that I aquired in 2007 and I still have them.  They are made from water bottles, not sure how it changes the 1 to 20,000 factor.  By my math this has helped me avoid using about 2,000 plastic bags.

12 years
1 shopping trip a week
75% usage of reusuable bags
2 plastic bags per one resusable (probably the low end, I bet its more like 3-4 plastic bags in one load of my reusable)
2 bags

12*52*.75*2*2=1872


tampaite

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #38 on: May 28, 2019, 11:25:18 AM »
The assault on plastic garbage bags is the perfect ammunition for RWNJs and it does little to save anyone (the businesses or the customers) money and does little to help the environment. This energy could have a much better economic and environmental impact if we were to enact stricter regulations on very expensive and very detrimental environmental activities such as reducing fuel usage for transportation, and reducing food waste, or improving efficiency for buildings. But noone wants to drive less, drive a smaller car, ride a bike, live in a smaller house, fly less, etc. Those things are extremely unpopular!


Great suggestions but those will derail this discussion - can you start a new thread?

GuitarStv

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #39 on: May 28, 2019, 11:28:30 AM »
From: https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2019/04/09/711181385/are-plastic-bag-bans-garbage
"you would have to use an organic cotton bag 20,000 times more than a plastic grocery bag to make using it better for the environment."

In context:

Quote
A 2011 study by the U.K. government found a person would have to reuse a cotton tote bag 131 times before it was better for climate change than using a plastic grocery bag once. The Danish government recently did a study that took into account environmental impacts beyond simply greenhouse gas emissions, including water use, damage to ecosystems and air pollution. These factors make cloth bags even worse. They estimate you would have to use an organic cotton bag 20,000 times more than a plastic grocery bag to make using it better for the environment.

That said, the Danish government's estimate doesn't take into account the effects of bags littering land and sea, where plastic is clearly the worst offender.

The 20,000 times estimate is a little wonky given that it's ignoring the effect of those plastic bags after their one time use.  The 131 use estimate sounds an awful lot more reasonable.

My cotton grocery bags seem to last about 8-10 years of weekly use before they need patching.  That works out to roughly 400-500 uses.  Of course, they can still be used after this point once I've sewn them back together.    None of them are made of organic cotton.  That seems like a clear win for the environment from where I'm sitting.


I believe that it's a mistake to look at a small solution in isolation that everyone can start doing today that will help things and say . . . "Hey, that's a waste of time.  It's not a big enough issue to care about."  I'd much rather see people start doing ten small things than look at one big issue and give up entirely.
« Last Edit: May 28, 2019, 11:30:21 AM by GuitarStv »

Cranky

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #40 on: May 28, 2019, 11:42:43 AM »
I'm ok with phasing out plastic grocery bags. However, before that happens, I need someone to tell me what I'm going to use to clean out the litterbox. Currently, I use the plastic bags.

There's a ton of other packaging that can be used - bread bags, paper bags, potato chip bags. Or, you can just dump it into a cardboard box and take it out every few days.

I devote every disposable grocery bag that comes my way to cat poop, but I've got cloth grocery bags that date back to the 1980s, when this issue first started being discussed.

John Galt incarnate!

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #41 on: May 28, 2019, 11:46:21 AM »
In August 2014, California became the first state to enact legislation imposing a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags at large retail stores. The bill also required a 10-cent minimum charge for recycled paper bags, reusable plastic bags, and compostable bags at certain locations

Like you I live in California.

Since  passage of the bill I've paid for one paper bag and one plastic bag at my local grocery store.

The pay-for plastic bags and paper bags are made of much thicker material than the ones used before the bill's passage.

 It must be that their increased  thickness satisfies the reusable requirement.
« Last Edit: May 28, 2019, 11:48:27 AM by John Galt incarnate! »

wageslave23

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #42 on: May 28, 2019, 11:50:15 AM »
From: https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2019/04/09/711181385/are-plastic-bag-bans-garbage
"you would have to use an organic cotton bag 20,000 times more than a plastic grocery bag to make using it better for the environment."

In context:

Quote
A 2011 study by the U.K. government found a person would have to reuse a cotton tote bag 131 times before it was better for climate change than using a plastic grocery bag once. The Danish government recently did a study that took into account environmental impacts beyond simply greenhouse gas emissions, including water use, damage to ecosystems and air pollution. These factors make cloth bags even worse. They estimate you would have to use an organic cotton bag 20,000 times more than a plastic grocery bag to make using it better for the environment.

That said, the Danish government's estimate doesn't take into account the effects of bags littering land and sea, where plastic is clearly the worst offender.

The 20,000 times estimate is a little wonky given that it's ignoring the effect of those plastic bags after their one time use.  The 131 use estimate sounds an awful lot more reasonable.

My cotton grocery bags seem to last about 8-10 years of weekly use before they need patching.  That works out to roughly 400-500 uses.  Of course, they can still be used after this point once I've sewn them back together.    None of them are made of organic cotton.  That seems like a clear win for the environment from where I'm sitting.


I believe that it's a mistake to look at a small solution in isolation that everyone can start doing today that will help things and say . . . "Hey, that's a waste of time.  It's not a big enough issue to care about."  I'd much rather see people start doing ten small things than look at one big issue and give up entirely.

So we can safely assume that the breakeven point is somewhere between 131 and 20,000 uses.  At an estimated 500 uses for cotton bags, I don't see that as evidence for a need to change public policy or personal behavior.  We need a more precise breakeven point.  Part of the problem with "green" initiatives, at least in the US, is there is a lot of propaganda.  After all the tax incentives for electric vehicles, we find that their carbon footprint is not much better than gas vehicles.  We need to stop letting politicians make a name for themselves by pushing agendas before the cold hard facts are in.  It might feel good to "go green" but lets be objective and smart about it.

John Galt incarnate!

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #43 on: May 28, 2019, 11:55:48 AM »
reducing food waste

I was astonished when I was first informed of  the amount  of energy  wasted by aggregate (global) waste of food.


afox

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #44 on: May 28, 2019, 11:58:30 AM »
This thread is supposed to be about how to get retailers to not use plastic bags. Whole foods stopped using plastic bags years ago, they replaced the plastic bags with paper bags. The same thing happens when local govt bans plastic bags, they are mostly replaced by paper bags. The problem is that paper bags arent better for the environment than plastic bags and the paper bags cost the retailers more than the plastic bags, that increase in cost means employees get paid less or prices go up.

Im not convinced its good policy for local govt to ban plastic bags. I think that the limited resources of govt should be used to create policies with the largest impacts. GuitarSrv is right that small changes are important but govt has extremely limited resources and is not capable of enacting lots of small policies. Consideration has to be given to the overall impact of policies towards a goal (economic, environmental, etc). This type of "dumb thinking" with indefensible or barely defensible policies makes progressives easy political targets.

This will kill many of you im sure but I have so many re-uses for the free plastic bags that I have found myself going thru the self checkout and using as many plastic bags as possible. One or two items per bag. I use them for nearly everything garbage related and dont buy any plastic bags. Please dont take away my free plastic bags!

bacchi

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #45 on: May 28, 2019, 12:03:18 PM »
So we can safely assume that the breakeven point is somewhere between 131 and 20,000 uses.  At an estimated 500 uses for cotton bags, I don't see that as evidence for a need to change public policy or personal behavior.  We need a more precise breakeven point. 

Yep.

We do know that plastic bags end up in trees and streams, though, and I'm happy to see the users get charged more to clean that shit up.

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After all the tax incentives for electric vehicles, we find that their carbon footprint is not much better than gas vehicles. 

What? No. It depends on the energy source.

jim555

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #46 on: May 28, 2019, 12:06:14 PM »
Eco warriors with feel good but totally ineffective plastic bag and straw bans will create a backlash.

Sibley

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #47 on: May 28, 2019, 12:09:19 PM »
I'm ok with phasing out plastic grocery bags. However, before that happens, I need someone to tell me what I'm going to use to clean out the litterbox. Currently, I use the plastic bags.

This exact issue is covered in the podcast I linked above.  Banning plastic bags from grocery stores spiked the purchasing of thicker 3gal and 6gal bags.

I just put a lot of meat or produce in produce bags that don't actually need to be in a bag. Luckily biodegradable produce bags are starting to show up, which are perfect for this reuse.

Um, clearly you don't have a cat with kidney disease. Sibley died last month. At the height of the litterbox usage, I was going through 6-7 plastic grocery bags per week (double bagged, because they were so thin), and they were FULL. Now that Sibley's died, I just have Arwen, and she doesn't have kidney disease. I can use the same 2 bags for 4-5 days now. It'll go back up when I get a 2nd cat, probably closer to the end of the year.

GuitarStv

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #48 on: May 28, 2019, 12:11:55 PM »
From: https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2019/04/09/711181385/are-plastic-bag-bans-garbage
"you would have to use an organic cotton bag 20,000 times more than a plastic grocery bag to make using it better for the environment."

In context:

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A 2011 study by the U.K. government found a person would have to reuse a cotton tote bag 131 times before it was better for climate change than using a plastic grocery bag once. The Danish government recently did a study that took into account environmental impacts beyond simply greenhouse gas emissions, including water use, damage to ecosystems and air pollution. These factors make cloth bags even worse. They estimate you would have to use an organic cotton bag 20,000 times more than a plastic grocery bag to make using it better for the environment.

That said, the Danish government's estimate doesn't take into account the effects of bags littering land and sea, where plastic is clearly the worst offender.

The 20,000 times estimate is a little wonky given that it's ignoring the effect of those plastic bags after their one time use.  The 131 use estimate sounds an awful lot more reasonable.

My cotton grocery bags seem to last about 8-10 years of weekly use before they need patching.  That works out to roughly 400-500 uses.  Of course, they can still be used after this point once I've sewn them back together.    None of them are made of organic cotton.  That seems like a clear win for the environment from where I'm sitting.


I believe that it's a mistake to look at a small solution in isolation that everyone can start doing today that will help things and say . . . "Hey, that's a waste of time.  It's not a big enough issue to care about."  I'd much rather see people start doing ten small things than look at one big issue and give up entirely.

So we can safely assume that the breakeven point is somewhere between 131 and 20,000 uses.  At an estimated 500 uses for cotton bags, I don't see that as evidence for a need to change public policy or personal behavior.  We need a more precise breakeven point.  Part of the problem with "green" initiatives, at least in the US, is there is a lot of propaganda.  After all the tax incentives for electric vehicles, we find that their carbon footprint is not much better than gas vehicles.  We need to stop letting politicians make a name for themselves by pushing agendas before the cold hard facts are in.  It might feel good to "go green" but lets be objective and smart about it.

We have one study that has a fundamental and fatal flaw . . . in that it only looks at costs of production, not total costs of the pollution damage that disposable bag do.  Given that, this study should probably be ignored entirely not used as an upper bound as you have done.

The second study is available here if you're interested: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/291023/scho0711buan-e-e.pdf).

500 uses is an estimate for hauling groceries before a cotton bag needs some sewing.  It's not the end of life.  I don't see why I won't be able to use the bags I've sewn together for another 5-10 years (250 - 500 uses) before they're really not usable any longer.  Heck, it's not even counting total usages.  I grab these same bags when I need to bring the kid's stuff to swimming lessons, when we go to the beach, when we need to bring the dog's kibble and bowl with us travelling, when I need to pick up books from the library, etc.

I've got no issue with the request for better studies . . . but have found that there are people who use requests for more information as a delaying tactic rather than out of real concern.

afox

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #49 on: May 28, 2019, 12:17:36 PM »
Eco warriors with feel good but totally ineffective plastic bag and straw bans will create a backlash.

Exactly! And as a result I think these bag bans certainly can do more harm than good. These types of policies are perfect ammunition for fox news commentators and conservative politicians. Given the facts, its pretty easy for evil forces to make the case that these policies are an over-reach, or a solution in search of a problem, or a waste of taxpayer money, etc, etc. Its just bad policy, very divisive, with minimal impact. Good policy is accepted by as many people as possible and its positive impact is easily defensible.