Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Weekly Call to Action: Choose Eco Bags over Plastic!

We're all doing a lot more shopping this season so now more than ever we need to be conscious of our choices! Recently Los Angeles County banned the use of plastic bags in unincorporated areas and Long Beach was the first to enact its own ban. Retailers are not allowed to give out single-use plastic bags. Not quite a victory in my opinion, but at the very least, it sets a new standard and brings this environmental danger to people's attention.

Why are plastic bags bad for the environment?
Travel down any highway or stop at any local park, and you will find plastic bags floating around, stuck in bushes and trees, or overflowing out of garbage receptacles. These plastic bags end up packing our landfills and threatening flora and fauna. Plastic bags are not biodegradable! They break down into smaller and smaller pieces of plastic but never return to nature in a sustainable way.

According to Heal the Bay, "Californians use 19 billion plastic bags every year. This generates over 147,000 tons of waste that ends up in landfills, local rivers and storm drains, and enters the ocean, killing marine life."

Plastics take hundred of years to break down and never return to an organic state. Did you know that millions of animals worldwide ingest the plastics that we throw in the trash? This is a photograph of a decaying Albatross; its body is halfway decomposed, yet the plastics in it's digestive system remain intact.

What are the benefits of using and reusing Eco-Bags?
Eco-bags are sturdy, reusable, and hold more groceries than the largest plastic bag you can find. Eco-bags are not made using petroleum and are usually not made with harsh chemicals. Most eco-bags are washable or can be wiped down. Myfavorite are made of Jute fiber from India, but Cotton or Canvas bags are also great alternatives to plastic!

At this year's Go Green Expo in LA, I met Nann Zinn, owner of Green-Eco Products who gave me several Jute bags which are so strong, I use them to hold the heavy items like cans and large bottles of juice! My eco-bags have saved hundreds of plastic bags from ending up in my home and in the trash.

In Anaheim, at the Natural Products Expo West, I met Stanley Joffe, President of Earthwise Bags, who introduced me to his "Veggie Bed." I have been using my Veggie Bed ever since and I couldn't imagine grocery-shopping without it. I take it to the Farmer's Markets and the grocery stores as well.

According to a recent article on Change.org, Plastic Bag Bans have been opposed by the American Chemistry Council (ACC) who supports companies like EXXON. ACC, the company which lobbied to keep BPA in baby bottles, is currently fighting the cities attempting to ban plastic bags. Since EXXON produces the disgusting ingredients that make those plastic bags, their billions in profits are threatened by the bag bans.

Are you Eco-Savvy?
At the Top of my List of Eco-Conscious Cities in SoCal is Carlsbad, California. Earlier this month, I interviewed several dozen shoppers at the Carlsbad Premium Outlets and Costco Wholesale on Palomar Airport Road, and an amazing 80% were holding eco-bags and stated that the environmental impact of plastic bags is ominous and requires our attention.

One lady, Mary, who was shopping with her husband, said "I really don't even notice it anymore and I don't think twice when I head to the store and take my eco-bags. I actually have a collection from all the stores where I shop! They are sturdy and much more convenient for me than those loud plastic bags."
Call to Action: What can we do individually to make a difference?
Each of us makes choices everyday. To help reduce the environmental impact of plastic bags, take eco-bags with you everytime you go shopping. Reuse those eco-bags in your home, in your car, and find other creative ways to use your bags. Bringing home groceries in eco-bags is so much cleaner because you just unload, fold them up, and pack them away in your pantry or back in your car!

So this holiday season, while you're swiping your plastic, make sure you're saying NO to Plastic Bags!

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