Author Topic: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't  (Read 5051 times)

caleb

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #100 on: June 02, 2019, 08:04:44 PM »
Plastic bags and straws aren't the biggest deal, they're just something folks can grasp that's tangible and do-able.  The real stuff - the driving, the person-per-square-foot, the movement of goods - that's untouchable.  Go after the real stuff and you're a Stalinist.  So people worry about straws because a straw is the biggest thing you can worry about and still be an American.

That said, the simple solution is to tax/fee the sh!t out of packaging.  Plastic bags, meat on styrofoam trays, Amazon boxes, whatever.  Collect a fee on it and use the money for cleanup.  I'm not just talking about the single use bags, I'm thinking of the box dinners, the milk cartons, the bread bags, and on down the grocery aisle.

But then you've increased the cost of the cheapest, most processed goods, the stuff that comes triple-wrapped in packaging, from somewhere far away. 

Who do those costs fall hardest on?  Yeah, the poor.  So what we're really doing is imposing the preferences of the well-off on the less-well-off.  That's uncomfortable.

The cheapness of our food supply has most benefited the least well off.

The cheapness of our food supply is based on thin film plastic.

Pollution versus humans right in front of you, you know? 

It's a tough tradeoff.
« Last Edit: June 02, 2019, 08:06:55 PM by caleb »

NorthernBlitz

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #101 on: June 03, 2019, 09:15:00 AM »
Quote
The data seems pretty well studied and clear.  That single use bags have far less environmental impact than reusable bags.  Unless you are like the poster above who has used the same bags for decades, of course.  But the problem is, most people don't.  So for every person that doesn't use a cotton bag 300 times, you are just adding more uses to those that do to offset environmental impact.  The numbers get out of control, fast.

See, I think this is pretty ridiculous.  Who DOESN'T reuse bags 300 times? 

I mean, I realize that I am old.

I have a variety of bags that I've gotten, for free, (or for very little) at conferences or garage sales.  Some cotton even. 

I do literally ALL my grocery shopping with reusable bags.  I have been doing so for over 5 years.  Probably closer to 8 years.  I grocery shop at least once per week.
8 years x 52 weeks per year = 416 uses.  For only 8 years.  I'm probably gonna live another 30 years.

If we are going to attack cotton and the environment, maybe we start with fast fashion?

What if we used plastic grocery bags?

These studies seem to suggest that would be best (except for a no bag Costco type solution).

Maybe those bags can't handle heavy stuff like milk 10 times, but maybe just don't put milk in a bag.

By the math above using a plastic bag 10 times Put you at 80 yeara or so. I don't think that would be a stretch for those bags.

GuitarStv

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #102 on: June 03, 2019, 09:30:22 AM »
I reuse plastic bags.  10 times is a stretch.  I'd say you get 3-4 uses on average out of them before holes start to develop.  Any heavy or pointy object will usually wreck them.  If you're porting around very light items that are soft they're great.

FIPurpose

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #103 on: June 03, 2019, 10:14:03 AM »
Also let's not forget how many people double bag things like milk. Which, if you switched to cotton, would reduce the payoff time frame in half. I've been using reusable bags for over a year now. It's become part of the routine. And it's almost ridiculous to me now that we go to the grocery store just expecting bags to carry everything home with. If I'm going to go buy a bunch of stuff, then I should bring something to put all that stuff in. That'd be like bringing clothes to an airport expecting the airline to provide a plastic bag for all your stuff.

Once it's part of your routine, you don't forget it. Once grocery stores start charging or going without, you really really don't forget it.

EngagedToFIRE

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #104 on: June 03, 2019, 10:34:11 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.

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

Here again, probably depends on the store or the city. In Tokyo, convenience stores always provide plastic bags for free, often even "double wrap" your stuff. Internet grocery stores send all of the groceries inside plastic bags (themselves inside boxes). A week of groceries on Seiyu (Walmart) for my family of 5 brings us 20 plastic bags. Their site gives you no way to opt out.

Popular supermarket Aeon have stopped distributing plastic bags, but this mostly looks like greenwashing since almost everything they sale is wrapped in plastic that is way thicker than your typical grocery bag. They even wrap bananas and oranges in those.



Pastries at the baker's are individually wrapped in plastic bags, then put together in another plastic bag.

Vending machines in every street promote pet-bottle drinks.

Popular American brands that have "banned" plastic straws in US and Europe such as Starbucks and McDonald's still haven't made the move in Japan (My guess is because nobody here cares?). McDonalds also includes a plastic bag with every takeout order (in addition to the paper bag! 100% useless)

Japan is plastic paradise. Our family of 5 throws away 50 liters of plastic a week, and that's coming from a family trying to reduce our garbage output, but there are no options to do that in Tokyo (the countryside might be better if there are options to buy local stuff or in bulk maybe).  Plastic supposedly gets "recycled", I think the reality is that it used to be sent to China, which is now refusing it, so I assume they burn a majority of it now, but I have no idea.

I was just at Aldi and thinking the same thing.  All the produce is in rather thick plastic packaging like those bananas.  While at the same time, they don't have any single use plastic bags to pack up your groceries!  It seemed silly to me.  So I purchased 2 bags to carry my groceries in for all of 20 cents.  The bags are multiple times thicker than the bags at the regular grocery store, far more plastic.  And the bags are not necessarily good enough to replace our cotton bags (beach trips, etc.) and too thick and obnoxious to use as a pet waste bag.  They seem so wasteful.

We use the regular grocery bags all the time for pet waste, small trash containers in the bathroom, etc.  If we didn't have those bags, we would by true single use plastic bags for the trash and pet waste.  How is that better?  The grocery bags get multiple uses since we use them for our groceries and for purposes that we would just have to buy plastic bags for anyways.  And if we have to buy plastic bags, then you have even more waste than the grocery bags.  So what is this grocery bag ban actually accomplishing?  Forcing us to use even more plastic, single use packaging, and spend more money to do so. 

Single use grocery plastic bags are a mustachian dream, being that they are free and have so many great uses.

bacchi

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #105 on: June 03, 2019, 10:48:30 AM »
We use the regular grocery bags all the time for pet waste, small trash containers in the bathroom, etc.  If we didn't have those bags, we would by true single use plastic bags for the trash and pet waste.  How is that better?

Studies have found a 70% drop in plastic by pound going to the dump.

Quote
Single use grocery plastic bags are a mustachian dream, being that they are free and have so many great uses.

Sometimes we have to pay a little more for the environment.

afox

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #106 on: June 03, 2019, 11:49:18 AM »
We use the regular grocery bags all the time for pet waste, small trash containers in the bathroom, etc.  If we didn't have those bags, we would by true single use plastic bags for the trash and pet waste.  How is that better?

Studies have found a 70% drop in plastic by pound going to the dump.


Can you elaborate?  Do you mean that when a plastic bag ban was enacted the amount of plastic going to the dump decreased by 70%?

Also, most places that ban plastic bags replace them with paper bags which have a worse environmental impact than plastic bags.


bacchi

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #107 on: June 03, 2019, 11:58:57 AM »
We use the regular grocery bags all the time for pet waste, small trash containers in the bathroom, etc.  If we didn't have those bags, we would by true single use plastic bags for the trash and pet waste.  How is that better?

Studies have found a 70% drop in plastic by pound going to the dump.


Can you elaborate?  Do you mean that when a plastic bag ban was enacted the amount of plastic going to the dump decreased by 70%?

Correct.

Quote
Also, most places that ban plastic bags replace them with paper bags which have a worse environmental impact than plastic bags.

We keep going over this. Do you have anything to back up the implied claim that paper bags (vs reusable bags) are now used exclusively to replace one-use plastic bags?

Anecdotally, I rarely see people get a paper bag but maybe that's only because the cashiers at my local store don't ask (and they're not near the self-checkout lanes).

Dabnasty

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #108 on: June 03, 2019, 12:04:10 PM »
We keep going over this. Do you have anything to back up the implied claim that paper bags (vs reusable bags) are now used exclusively to replace one-use plastic bags?

Anecdotally, I rarely see people get a paper bag but maybe that's only because the cashiers at my local store don't ask (and they're not near the self-checkout lanes).

I'd be interested in this data as well. Even though paper bags may be the alternative option offered by stores, do customers actually accept them or do they start bringing their own bags? Also, if a customer does accept paper, what's the ratio of paper bags used to plastic? Paper bags can hold much more than plastic, do studies comparing the impact of paper vs plastic account for this?

afox

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #109 on: June 03, 2019, 12:16:23 PM »

Studies have found a 70% drop in plastic by pound going to the dump.


Do you have a source for this? I would LOVE to be proven wrong but it seems unbelievable that plastic bags were accounting for that much plastic going to the dump.

Where I live we dont have a plastic bag ban yet but all of the trendy stores  (whole foods, trader joes, etc) have stopped carrying plastic bags and now use paper bags. They double bag the paper bags because they rip very easily.

bacchi

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #110 on: June 03, 2019, 12:23:31 PM »

Studies have found a 70% drop in plastic by pound going to the dump.


Do you have a source for this? I would LOVE to be proven wrong but it seems unbelievable that plastic bags were accounting for that much plastic going to the dump.

??? It was discussed upthread...with you. Is "afox" a shared account?

Quote
Where I live we dont have a plastic bag ban yet but all of the trendy stores  (whole foods, trader joes, etc) have stopped carrying plastic bags and now use paper bags. They double bag the paper bags because they rip very easily.

Trader Joe's is the worst. I don't need my cucumber plastic wrapped, thankyouverymuch.

CNM

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #111 on: June 03, 2019, 12:30:08 PM »
My city banned plastic bags too a few years ago.  Paper bags are available for a ten cent charge. 

There was A LOT of hand-wringing, like I see on this thread, that the plastic bag ban will backfire, that it was inconvenient to customers, and all that.  It is has been, oh, four years?, and everyone has adapted.  The arguments against the ban were completely overblown.

everyone has adapted but has the program been been successful? Or does your city use more paper bags now which are worse for the environment than plastic, at a higher cost to its citizens, and did the ban on plastic help elect donald j. trump?

To answer your questions: I have not been able to locate any study that shows the change in the number of paper bags being used.  There are news reports that quote various retailers say that there has been a large uptick in people using reusable bags.  Make of that what you will.
Also, a significant portion of the 10 cent paper bag charge goes toward environmental education and initiatives. 

Election of Trump: Most certainly not.  My state was solidly blue and my city, where the ban is, is even more brightly blue.

Really, the plastic bag ban doesn't seem to bother anyone any more.  We've gotten used to it.  In a recent city election it did not come up as an election platform for any of the candidates. 

Arbitrage

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #112 on: June 03, 2019, 12:53:24 PM »

Studies have found a 70% drop in plastic by pound going to the dump.


Do you have a source for this? I would LOVE to be proven wrong but it seems unbelievable that plastic bags were accounting for that much plastic going to the dump.

Where I live we dont have a plastic bag ban yet but all of the trendy stores  (whole foods, trader joes, etc) have stopped carrying plastic bags and now use paper bags. They double bag the paper bags because they rip very easily.

Not 70% reduction of all plastic going to the dump.  Net 70% reduction of the plastic bag waste currently going to the dump; the other 30% is backfilled by additional bags being purchased. 

afox

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #113 on: June 03, 2019, 12:59:39 PM »

Studies have found a 70% drop in plastic by pound going to the dump.


Do you have a source for this? I would LOVE to be proven wrong but it seems unbelievable that plastic bags were accounting for that much plastic going to the dump.

Where I live we dont have a plastic bag ban yet but all of the trendy stores  (whole foods, trader joes, etc) have stopped carrying plastic bags and now use paper bags. They double bag the paper bags because they rip very easily.

Not 70% reduction of all plastic going to the dump.  Net 70% reduction of the plastic bag waste currently going to the dump; the other 30% is backfilled by additional bags being purchased.

That sounds more plausible. Net 70% reduction in plastic bag waste by weight or number of plastic bags?  Source?

FIPurpose

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #114 on: June 03, 2019, 01:13:00 PM »

Trader Joe's is the worst. I don't need my cucumber plastic wrapped, thankyouverymuch.

I don't know why you pick on trader joe's for this since english cucumbers are pretty much wrapped everywhere. But it makes the cucumber survive 3x longer. Meaning less food and transportation waste. American cucumbers are waxier and don't require the plastic lining.

Arbitrage

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #115 on: June 03, 2019, 01:16:29 PM »

That sounds more plausible. Net 70% reduction in plastic bag waste by weight or number of plastic bags?  Source?

It was upthread somewhere.  I don't stand by the number, just regurgitating what people were discussing in a less confusing manner.

bacchi

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #116 on: June 03, 2019, 01:20:21 PM »

Trader Joe's is the worst. I don't need my cucumber plastic wrapped, thankyouverymuch.

I don't know why you pick on trader joe's for this since english cucumbers are pretty much wrapped everywhere. But it makes the cucumber survive 3x longer. Meaning less food and transportation waste. American cucumbers are waxier and don't require the plastic lining.

Ha, I've never heard of there being different types of cucumbers sold in major grocers. I just know that the Other Grocery Store doesn't use plastic but maybe you're right and they're American cukes.

TJ's also doesn't sell onions or garlic in bulk. They come in a mesh bag. Lame.

NorthernBlitz

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #117 on: June 03, 2019, 01:40:04 PM »

Studies have found a 70% drop in plastic by pound going to the dump.


Do you have a source for this? I would LOVE to be proven wrong but it seems unbelievable that plastic bags were accounting for that much plastic going to the dump.

Where I live we dont have a plastic bag ban yet but all of the trendy stores  (whole foods, trader joes, etc) have stopped carrying plastic bags and now use paper bags. They double bag the paper bags because they rip very easily.

Not 70% reduction of all plastic going to the dump.  Net 70% reduction of the plastic bag waste currently going to the dump; the other 30% is backfilled by additional bags being purchased.

That sounds more plausible. Net 70% reduction in plastic bag waste by weight or number of plastic bags?  Source?

If you want the sources, check out the Planet Money: Indicator podcast link that's up thread.

They talk to the authors of the paper and provide links to them on the page.

mm1970

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #118 on: June 03, 2019, 02:17:01 PM »

Studies have found a 70% drop in plastic by pound going to the dump.


Do you have a source for this? I would LOVE to be proven wrong but it seems unbelievable that plastic bags were accounting for that much plastic going to the dump.



??? It was discussed upthread...with you. Is "afox" a shared account?

Quote
Where I live we dont have a plastic bag ban yet but all of the trendy stores  (whole foods, trader joes, etc) have stopped carrying plastic bags and now use paper bags. They double bag the paper bags because they rip very easily.

Trader Joe's is the worst. I don't need my cucumber plastic wrapped, thankyouverymuch.
http://www.grubstreet.com/2019/03/trader-joes-plastic.html

mm1970

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #119 on: June 03, 2019, 02:18:44 PM »

Trader Joe's is the worst. I don't need my cucumber plastic wrapped, thankyouverymuch.

I don't know why you pick on trader joe's for this since english cucumbers are pretty much wrapped everywhere. But it makes the cucumber survive 3x longer. Meaning less food and transportation waste. American cucumbers are waxier and don't require the plastic lining.

Ha, I've never heard of there being different types of cucumbers sold in major grocers. I just know that the Other Grocery Store doesn't use plastic but maybe you're right and they're American cukes.

TJ's also doesn't sell onions or garlic in bulk. They come in a mesh bag. Lame.
Huh, weird.  Mine sells loose onions in bulk.  Not garlic though.

FIPurpose

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #120 on: June 03, 2019, 02:19:19 PM »

Trader Joe's is the worst. I don't need my cucumber plastic wrapped, thankyouverymuch.

I don't know why you pick on trader joe's for this since english cucumbers are pretty much wrapped everywhere. But it makes the cucumber survive 3x longer. Meaning less food and transportation waste. American cucumbers are waxier and don't require the plastic lining.

Ha, I've never heard of there being different types of cucumbers sold in major grocers. I just know that the Other Grocery Store doesn't use plastic but maybe you're right and they're American cukes.

TJ's also doesn't sell onions or garlic in bulk. They come in a mesh bag. Lame.

Huh my TJ's has them in bulk along with potatoes, most fruits, etc. Maybe the smaller ones they don't do bulk though.

BussoV6

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #121 on: June 04, 2019, 01:16:35 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.

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

Here again, probably depends on the store or the city. In Tokyo, convenience stores always provide plastic bags for free, often even "double wrap" your stuff. Internet grocery stores send all of the groceries inside plastic bags (themselves inside boxes). A week of groceries on Seiyu (Walmart) for my family of 5 brings us 20 plastic bags. Their site gives you no way to opt out.

Popular supermarket Aeon have stopped distributing plastic bags, but this mostly looks like greenwashing since almost everything they sale is wrapped in plastic that is way thicker than your typical grocery bag. They even wrap bananas and oranges in those.



Pastries at the baker's are individually wrapped in plastic bags, then put together in another plastic bag.

Vending machines in every street promote pet-bottle drinks.

Popular American brands that have "banned" plastic straws in US and Europe such as Starbucks and McDonald's still haven't made the move in Japan (My guess is because nobody here cares?). McDonalds also includes a plastic bag with every takeout order (in addition to the paper bag! 100% useless)

Japan is plastic paradise. Our family of 5 throws away 50 liters of plastic a week, and that's coming from a family trying to reduce our garbage output, but there are no options to do that in Tokyo (the countryside might be better if there are options to buy local stuff or in bulk maybe).  Plastic supposedly gets "recycled", I think the reality is that it used to be sent to China, which is now refusing it, so I assume they burn a majority of it now, but I have no idea.

BASF, a German company, make biodegradable, compostable plastic wrap that is used for wrapping of fruit/veg, clothing and double use bags (like groceries and trash). It's more expensive to make but may be worth it in terms of total cost to the planet.

NorthernBlitz

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #122 on: June 04, 2019, 09:24:52 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.

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

Here again, probably depends on the store or the city. In Tokyo, convenience stores always provide plastic bags for free, often even "double wrap" your stuff. Internet grocery stores send all of the groceries inside plastic bags (themselves inside boxes). A week of groceries on Seiyu (Walmart) for my family of 5 brings us 20 plastic bags. Their site gives you no way to opt out.

Popular supermarket Aeon have stopped distributing plastic bags, but this mostly looks like greenwashing since almost everything they sale is wrapped in plastic that is way thicker than your typical grocery bag. They even wrap bananas and oranges in those.



Pastries at the baker's are individually wrapped in plastic bags, then put together in another plastic bag.

Vending machines in every street promote pet-bottle drinks.

Popular American brands that have "banned" plastic straws in US and Europe such as Starbucks and McDonald's still haven't made the move in Japan (My guess is because nobody here cares?). McDonalds also includes a plastic bag with every takeout order (in addition to the paper bag! 100% useless)

Japan is plastic paradise. Our family of 5 throws away 50 liters of plastic a week, and that's coming from a family trying to reduce our garbage output, but there are no options to do that in Tokyo (the countryside might be better if there are options to buy local stuff or in bulk maybe).  Plastic supposedly gets "recycled", I think the reality is that it used to be sent to China, which is now refusing it, so I assume they burn a majority of it now, but I have no idea.

BASF, a German company, make biodegradable, compostable plastic wrap that is used for wrapping of fruit/veg, clothing and double use bags (like groceries and trash). It's more expensive to make but may be worth it in terms of total cost to the planet.

When I was in Canada (outside of Toronto) we had compost pick up. We used biodegradable bags made from sugar cane as the liner for the compost bin. Interestingly, my inlaws (who lived outside of Ottawa) couldn't get those same bags so we'd always grab a couple of boxes for them at Costco.

They worked pretty well for compost, but weren't strong enough to use for groceries. It's been 5 years or so since we left, so maybe the technology is better now.

EngagedToFIRE

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #123 on: June 05, 2019, 11:14:22 AM »

Studies have found a 70% drop in plastic by pound going to the dump.


Do you have a source for this? I would LOVE to be proven wrong but it seems unbelievable that plastic bags were accounting for that much plastic going to the dump.

Where I live we dont have a plastic bag ban yet but all of the trendy stores  (whole foods, trader joes, etc) have stopped carrying plastic bags and now use paper bags. They double bag the paper bags because they rip very easily.

Not 70% reduction of all plastic going to the dump.  Net 70% reduction of the plastic bag waste currently going to the dump; the other 30% is backfilled by additional bags being purchased.

If it's going to the dump, then it's going where it's supposed to go, right?  Isn't the big issue with plastic bags ruining the oceans supposedly?  Do they know how many cotton bags end up at the dump, the environmental impact of said bags?  The studies above seem to shed light on this and suggest the environmental impact of the reusable bags is actually much worse than plastic.  And if plastic bags are, in fact, ending up in the dump, then what is the problem?  Less environmental impact and no pollution.  Isn't that precisely the idea?

I'm torn on the topic, personally.  I don't necessarily see a problem with people just getting used to bringing their own bags.  And if everyone reuses the heck out of them, we'll get thousands of uses out of bags and it's a net gain.  While at the same time I feel like maybe we are trying to solve a problem that isn't really a problem.

Dragonswan

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #124 on: June 05, 2019, 11:34:56 AM »
Isn't part of the issue that paper and cotton are biodegradable and plastic is not (at least not what the flimsy grocery bags are made out of)?

mm1970

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #125 on: June 05, 2019, 11:55:45 AM »
Quote
If it's going to the dump, then it's going where it's supposed to go, right?  Isn't the big issue with plastic bags ruining the oceans supposedly?  Do they know how many cotton bags end up at the dump, the environmental impact of said bags?  The studies above seem to shed light on this and suggest the environmental impact of the reusable bags is actually much worse than plastic.  And if plastic bags are, in fact, ending up in the dump, then what is the problem?  Less environmental impact and no pollution.  Isn't that precisely the idea?

I'm torn on the topic, personally.  I don't necessarily see a problem with people just getting used to bringing their own bags.  And if everyone reuses the heck out of them, we'll get thousands of uses out of bags and it's a net gain.  While at the same time I feel like maybe we are trying to solve a problem that isn't really a problem.

1.  Technically.  But a lot of bags don't end up at the dump because they fly away from the trash trucks or trash bins and end up in the ocean, or hanging from bushes.
2.  But not really.  Because plastic doesn't degrade...well, ever?  I mean, it can take 1000 years, which is essentially forever - while cloth fabric/ paper decomposes much more quickly to turn back into earth.

Related: I used to live right next to a big dump, where cities and counties in other states would ship their stuff.  I think a disconnect that I see (particularly with my own family), is that they don't SEE it.  We grew up in a big, rural area.  So there was a multi-acre dump nearby, who cares?  (So there was a bit more unexplained cancer, who cares?)  Having moved from there to bigger cities and now in California (with a large population) - I see far more trash.  The amount of trash generated by people is astounding. 

The trash/ plastic bags don't actually "go away".  They still exist. 

v8rx7guy

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #126 on: June 05, 2019, 12:15:20 PM »
Quote
If it's going to the dump, then it's going where it's supposed to go, right?  Isn't the big issue with plastic bags ruining the oceans supposedly?  Do they know how many cotton bags end up at the dump, the environmental impact of said bags?  The studies above seem to shed light on this and suggest the environmental impact of the reusable bags is actually much worse than plastic.  And if plastic bags are, in fact, ending up in the dump, then what is the problem?  Less environmental impact and no pollution.  Isn't that precisely the idea?

I'm torn on the topic, personally.  I don't necessarily see a problem with people just getting used to bringing their own bags.  And if everyone reuses the heck out of them, we'll get thousands of uses out of bags and it's a net gain.  While at the same time I feel like maybe we are trying to solve a problem that isn't really a problem.

1.  Technically.  But a lot of bags don't end up at the dump because they fly away from the trash trucks or trash bins and end up in the ocean, or hanging from bushes.
2.  But not really.  Because plastic doesn't degrade...well, ever?  I mean, it can take 1000 years, which is essentially forever - while cloth fabric/ paper decomposes much more quickly to turn back into earth.

Related: I used to live right next to a big dump, where cities and counties in other states would ship their stuff.  I think a disconnect that I see (particularly with my own family), is that they don't SEE it.  We grew up in a big, rural area.  So there was a multi-acre dump nearby, who cares?  (So there was a bit more unexplained cancer, who cares?)  Having moved from there to bigger cities and now in California (with a large population) - I see far more trash.  The amount of trash generated by people is astounding. 

The trash/ plastic bags don't actually "go away".  They still exist.

So that leads to the question, which is more important: Reducing CO2 emissions or Reducing Permanent Landfill Volume?  It seems these factors and bag choice are arguably at odds with each other.

ABC123

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #127 on: June 05, 2019, 01:49:36 PM »
In my experience at the grocery store, baggers tend to pack my reusable bags as filled as they can go, but on the rare occasions where I forget them and have to use plastic, they pack my groceries with 2 or 3 items to the bag.  So to the argument where each reusable bag has to be used however many hundred times to make up for plastic, I feel like my grocery trip that uses 5 reusable bags, rather than 20 plastic bags, I make up that number of uses rather quickly.

I shop at Kroger, and I'm in Tennessee - land of "global warming is a hoax, just give me my pickup truck.  Don't you dare tell me I can't screw the environment!"  When I go to the grocery store, I very rarely see anyone else using reusable grocery bags.  So I was very surprised when they had a sign up last time saying they will no longer use plastic bags by 2025.  Now that seems like a long time to wait, but at least they are doing something.  We will see how public opinion goes as we get closer.

EngagedToFIRE

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #128 on: June 05, 2019, 04:45:32 PM »
Quote
If it's going to the dump, then it's going where it's supposed to go, right?  Isn't the big issue with plastic bags ruining the oceans supposedly?  Do they know how many cotton bags end up at the dump, the environmental impact of said bags?  The studies above seem to shed light on this and suggest the environmental impact of the reusable bags is actually much worse than plastic.  And if plastic bags are, in fact, ending up in the dump, then what is the problem?  Less environmental impact and no pollution.  Isn't that precisely the idea?

I'm torn on the topic, personally.  I don't necessarily see a problem with people just getting used to bringing their own bags.  And if everyone reuses the heck out of them, we'll get thousands of uses out of bags and it's a net gain.  While at the same time I feel like maybe we are trying to solve a problem that isn't really a problem.

1.  Technically.  But a lot of bags don't end up at the dump because they fly away from the trash trucks or trash bins and end up in the ocean, or hanging from bushes.
2.  But not really.  Because plastic doesn't degrade...well, ever?  I mean, it can take 1000 years, which is essentially forever - while cloth fabric/ paper decomposes much more quickly to turn back into earth.

Related: I used to live right next to a big dump, where cities and counties in other states would ship their stuff.  I think a disconnect that I see (particularly with my own family), is that they don't SEE it.  We grew up in a big, rural area.  So there was a multi-acre dump nearby, who cares?  (So there was a bit more unexplained cancer, who cares?)  Having moved from there to bigger cities and now in California (with a large population) - I see far more trash.  The amount of trash generated by people is astounding. 

The trash/ plastic bags don't actually "go away".  They still exist.

I live right near a dump, too.  It's one of the most beautiful and awesome parks in South Florida now.  We go to the airfield there and our kids love the playgrounds.  Really cool view since the dump so full of trash, that it's a huge "mountain" as my kids call it.  Awesome place.

http://www.broward.org/Parks/Pages/Park.aspx?=41

Our county also has a garbage to energy facility that cleanly burns all the trash to make electricity and also recycles quite a bit.

https://www.wtienergy.com/plant-locations/energy-from-waste/wheelabrator-south-broward

This reminds me of the Penn and Teller Bullshit episode on the topic (recycling I think was the actual topic).  If you haven't seen it, look for it.  Really good.

I do agree that the amount of trash dumped by people is insane.  But I agree that plastic bags are a nothing burger.  Look at what's IN the bags.... And when you ban the plastic bags, now we have to buy plastic bags to use for the tasks we used the free grocery bags for.  And those bags come in a box that you throw away, even more money spent and more trash.  Our grocery stores have recycle bins outside for the bags if you don't reuse them.  There are certainly options.  Banning the bags just doesn't seem to make a lot of sense, though.
« Last Edit: June 05, 2019, 04:49:14 PM by EngagedToFIRE »

bacchi

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #129 on: June 05, 2019, 04:52:12 PM »
So that leads to the question, which is more important: Reducing CO2 emissions or Reducing Permanent Landfill Volume?  It seems these factors and bag choice are arguably at odds with each other.

How so?

Both of the studies mentioned in the NPR podcast have a reuse rate of ~130 for cotton bags for climate change comparison. Reusing a cotton bag also reduces the amount of landfill volume. Why are they at odds?

palebluedot

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #130 on: June 05, 2019, 06:41:16 PM »
Here's a study summary on plastic bag reduction and its impact:
https://docs.google.com/viewerng/viewer?url=https://scaan.net/docs/ScAAN_Bags_report.pdf


Quote
Based on evidence from environmental science, psychology, and economics, we recommend a minimum 5 cent fee on both single-use plastic and paper bags, or a ban on single-use plastic bags combined with a fee on all other bags (paper or plastic). Either measure is likely to have a large positive impact on: a) wildlife and the environment, b) the quality of life in communities of all socioeconomic levels, c) the efficiency of waste processing, and d) consumer attitudes towards the environment.

vivian

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #131 on: June 07, 2019, 06:37:11 PM »
I almost always use reusable bags. But I see them getting to be waste as well. It seems every conference, other event I go to is handing out free cloth bags. I have a stash of them that is way too big for my needs.

On another note, is there a reusable option for produce? Ive been trying to reuse the plastic bags I put apples, broccoli, green beans in while shopping. I get about three uses before they tear.


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PoutineLover

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #132 on: June 07, 2019, 07:15:59 PM »
I almost always use reusable bags. But I see them getting to be waste as well. It seems every conference, other event I go to is handing out free cloth bags. I have a stash of them that is way too big for my needs.

On another note, is there a reusable option for produce? Ive been trying to reuse the plastic bags I put apples, broccoli, green beans in while shopping. I get about three uses before they tear.


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I end up with extra bags too, they can be donated to food banks and other charities. For produce, I just got some mesh bags that will hopefully replace most of my plastic bags. I got a bunch on amazon for pretty cheap, but unfortunately they were shipped all the way from China. I'm hoping that a lot of use will make them worthwhile.

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #133 on: June 07, 2019, 07:40:18 PM »
I almost always use reusable bags. But I see them getting to be waste as well. It seems every conference, other event I go to is handing out free cloth bags. I have a stash of them that is way too big for my needs.

On another note, is there a reusable option for produce? Ive been trying to reuse the plastic bags I put apples, broccoli, green beans in while shopping. I get about three uses before they tear.


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I bought a set of ten mesh produce bags of assorted sizes from a lady in my local Zero Waste Facebook group back in February, and they're still going strong now - I haven't used the plastic ones since.

Dicey

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #134 on: June 09, 2019, 10:16:15 AM »
I work in Evanston just over the Chicago city limits border and have taken to running a lot of my errands there, where there is no bag ban, simply to get bags for free to scoop the dirty kitty litter into. Haven't yet found a solution to that. My building is very old with temperamental plumbing so I don't dare flush it.
Wait, what? People actually flush their cat poop? That seems colossally irresponsible. Clue me in here, please.

Zikoris

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #135 on: June 09, 2019, 10:37:21 AM »
I work in Evanston just over the Chicago city limits border and have taken to running a lot of my errands there, where there is no bag ban, simply to get bags for free to scoop the dirty kitty litter into. Haven't yet found a solution to that. My building is very old with temperamental plumbing so I don't dare flush it.
Wait, what? People actually flush their cat poop? That seems colossally irresponsible. Clue me in here, please.

My understanding is that the problem with cat poop is that toxo-something parasite, which can only be picked up outdoors and has a life cycle of only a few weeks - so if you have an indoor-only cat, the poop should be safe to flush, and is basically just normal poop at that point. Anyone want to chime in who knows more about poop than me?

GuitarStv

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #136 on: June 09, 2019, 11:15:33 AM »
The toxoplasma gondii that most cats carry infects aquatic animals with toxoplasmosis (most recently there have been a lot of stories about sea otters, but other creatures as well).  A few weeks is plenty of time for this to cause ecological damage.  It's true that indoor cats have less exposure to the parasite, but it's certainly not unheard of that they have it.

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #137 on: June 09, 2019, 11:37:41 AM »
More immediately, any amount of clay based kitty litter is very, very bad for your plumbing.

Zikoris

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #138 on: June 09, 2019, 11:39:48 AM »
The toxoplasma gondii that most cats carry infects aquatic animals with toxoplasmosis (most recently there have been a lot of stories about sea otters, but other creatures as well).  A few weeks is plenty of time for this to cause ecological damage.  It's true that indoor cats have less exposure to the parasite, but it's certainly not unheard of that they have it.

Yes, I'm assuming if they've been outdoors you would not flush the poop. But like, if you live in a highrise apartment and your cat has never been outdoors (or hasn't in years), and doesn't interact with animals who have been outdoors, I don't see how they could possibly have it.

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #139 on: June 10, 2019, 10:22:45 AM »
The toxoplasma gondii that most cats carry infects aquatic animals with toxoplasmosis (most recently there have been a lot of stories about sea otters, but other creatures as well).  A few weeks is plenty of time for this to cause ecological damage.  It's true that indoor cats have less exposure to the parasite, but it's certainly not unheard of that they have it.

Yes, I'm assuming if they've been outdoors you would not flush the poop. But like, if you live in a highrise apartment and your cat has never been outdoors (or hasn't in years), and doesn't interact with animals who have been outdoors, I don't see how they could possibly have it.

I think cats most commonly get toxoplasmosis from rodents. Amazingly the toxoplasmosis parasite makes the rodents less afraid of cats which aids its spread. And even more amazingly, it is thought that the toxoplasmosis makes the cat owners crazy, ie crazy cat lady syndrome.

v8rx7guy

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #140 on: June 10, 2019, 10:25:45 AM »
More immediately, any amount of clay based kitty litter is very, very bad for your plumbing.

They actually sit on your toilet and poop.  No kitty litter involved.

mm1970

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #141 on: June 10, 2019, 11:21:33 AM »
I almost always use reusable bags. But I see them getting to be waste as well. It seems every conference, other event I go to is handing out free cloth bags. I have a stash of them that is way too big for my needs.

On another note, is there a reusable option for produce? Ive been trying to reuse the plastic bags I put apples, broccoli, green beans in while shopping. I get about three uses before they tear.


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I use reusable fabric bags for produce.  I bought them, but I'm planning to make some more (I follow someone on IG who makes them and hands them out at the farmer's market).

The usefulness for long term storage will depend on the fruit/veggie and how long you plan on keeping them.  In my experience, lettuce/greens, sugar snap peas, carrots, celery REALLY do better in plastic.  Plus berries.  So as an example:

apples, oranges: loose in my fridge drawers.

lettuce, greens - I get these loose, then I store them in old bread bags or thicker produce bags or tortilla bags.  We wash and reuse the bags for a long long time, then recycle to give to friends with dogs.  When I wash and spin my lettuce, I store in a large tupperware container. 

snap peas get delivered in compostable bags, but those will not keep them from wilting, so they go into tupperware or regular plastic bags that I reuse.

Onions, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini - those keep just fine in fabric bags.

EngagedToFIRE

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #142 on: June 17, 2019, 07:02:34 PM »
This is a pretty darn good article today.  Made me think of this topic:

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-sorry-banning-plastic-bags-wont-save-our-planet/

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #143 on: June 19, 2019, 07:52:06 PM »
This is a pretty darn good article today.  Made me think of this topic:

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-sorry-banning-plastic-bags-wont-save-our-planet/

Quote
We should also recognize that more than 70 per cent of all plastics floating on oceans today about 190,000 tonnes come from fisheries, with buoys and lines making up the majority. That tells us clearly that concerted action is needed to clean up the fishing industry

Wonderful. All we have to do is stop eating fish and other sea food and turn vegetarian!!! and 70% of problem solved.



EngagedToFIRE

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #144 on: June 20, 2019, 05:35:01 AM »
This is a pretty darn good article today.  Made me think of this topic:

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-sorry-banning-plastic-bags-wont-save-our-planet/

Quote
We should also recognize that more than 70 per cent of all plastics floating on oceans today about 190,000 tonnes come from fisheries, with buoys and lines making up the majority. That tells us clearly that concerted action is needed to clean up the fishing industry

Wonderful. All we have to do is stop eating fish and other sea food and turn vegetarian!!! and 70% of problem solved.

And then stop Asian countries from dumping all their waste in the ocean.  I think the article points out the obvious, that banning plastic bags in the US, which has outstanding waste management, would do absolutely nothing for the environment, and possibly make matters worse.

tampaite

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #145 on: June 20, 2019, 08:34:30 AM »
And then stop Asian countries from dumping all their waste in the ocean.  I think the article points out the obvious, that banning plastic bags in the US, which has outstanding waste management, would do absolutely nothing for the environment, and possibly make matters worse.

well, when US/Canada and other countries ship their garbage out to Asian countries, what do you think they do with it? I think we should stop sending ALL garbage and process them ALL within our borders for any meaninful environmental change.

https://nationalpost.com/news/politics/garbage-from-philippines-well-on-its-way-to-canada-aboard-a-different-ship-government-says

GuitarStv

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #146 on: June 20, 2019, 08:45:34 AM »
But we won't be able to claim 'outstanding waste management' if we actually have to manage all our waste . . .

EngagedToFIRE

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #147 on: June 20, 2019, 06:40:00 PM »
That's not quite accurate.  It's a global economy and countries ship certain types of materials around the world for processing.  The issue with the Canada one was the company lied about it being recyclable material.  To suggest that we are shipping all of our household waste to Asia is totally inaccurate.

The stats are pretty clear, the US simply does not pollute very much - like almost all 1st world countries.

GuitarStv

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #148 on: June 20, 2019, 08:12:02 PM »
That's not quite accurate.  It's a global economy and countries ship certain types of materials around the world for processing.  The issue with the Canada one was the company lied about it being recyclable material.  To suggest that we are shipping all of our household waste to Asia is totally inaccurate.

The stats are pretty clear, the US simply does not pollute very much - like almost all 1st world countries.

How much of the lack of pollution comes from outsourcing all that dirty manufacturing to third world countries with nonexistent pollution controls (or no means to enforce them)?

BussoV6

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Re: Plastic bags - Why some stores provide but others don't
« Reply #149 on: June 21, 2019, 01:05:14 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.

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

Here again, probably depends on the store or the city. In Tokyo, convenience stores always provide plastic bags for free, often even "double wrap" your stuff. Internet grocery stores send all of the groceries inside plastic bags (themselves inside boxes). A week of groceries on Seiyu (Walmart) for my family of 5 brings us 20 plastic bags. Their site gives you no way to opt out.

Popular supermarket Aeon have stopped distributing plastic bags, but this mostly looks like greenwashing since almost everything they sale is wrapped in plastic that is way thicker than your typical grocery bag. They even wrap bananas and oranges in those.



Pastries at the baker's are individually wrapped in plastic bags, then put together in another plastic bag.

Vending machines in every street promote pet-bottle drinks.

Popular American brands that have "banned" plastic straws in US and Europe such as Starbucks and McDonald's still haven't made the move in Japan (My guess is because nobody here cares?). McDonalds also includes a plastic bag with every takeout order (in addition to the paper bag! 100% useless)

Japan is plastic paradise. Our family of 5 throws away 50 liters of plastic a week, and that's coming from a family trying to reduce our garbage output, but there are no options to do that in Tokyo (the countryside might be better if there are options to buy local stuff or in bulk maybe).  Plastic supposedly gets "recycled", I think the reality is that it used to be sent to China, which is now refusing it, so I assume they burn a majority of it now, but I have no idea.

BASF, a German company, make biodegradable, compostable plastic wrap that is used for wrapping of fruit/veg, clothing and double use bags (like groceries and trash). It's more expensive to make but may be worth it in terms of total cost to the planet.

When I was in Canada (outside of Toronto) we had compost pick up. We used biodegradable bags made from sugar cane as the liner for the compost bin. Interestingly, my inlaws (who lived outside of Ottawa) couldn't get those same bags so we'd always grab a couple of boxes for them at Costco.

They worked pretty well for compost, but weren't strong enough to use for groceries. It's been 5 years or so since we left, so maybe the technology is better now.

I think the strength is largely a function of thickness. The biodegradable bags I saw in Germany were more than strong enough for quite a few grocery hauls.