Going green, now in a handy six-pack.

wine-tote.jpg

Those awful plastic grocery bags are fading fast. Whole Foods is phasing them out. Already, stores in San Francisco, Toronto and Austin, Texas, have done away with them. On April 22 [Earth Day, get it?], the entire chain will be plastic bag-free.

And China, not exactly a shining example of environmentalism, has banned plastic bags from the entire country. As of June 1, all stores, from the largest to the smallest, must go bag-free. For the practical Chinese, it’s a matter of not wasting 37 million barrels of oil a year on bags. It’s also a chance to polish their image for the Olympics. Whatever the reason, it’s good news for the planet.

The problems with plastic bags are many. First, they don’t biodegrade, as paper does. They photodegrade—which is to say that light causes them break up into tinier and tinier particles, but they never stop being plastic. According to a New York Times article [first brought to my attention by Kirsten over at Gezellig Girl], “Altogether, each year the country is estimated to use 86 billion bags, which end up blowing down city streets, or tangled in the stomachs of whales and sea turtles, or buried in landfills where, environmental organizations say, they persist for as long as 1,000 years.” And even if you recycle them, as more communities are now mandating, plastic degrades in quality with each recycling, so it’s not truly sustainable.

So what can you use instead of plastic? Interestingly, when Whole Foods eliminated plastic bags in San Francisco, paper bag usage only went up 10%. Instead, people switched to canvas bags. More and more grocery chains have begun selling them, for a buck or so, as a way to help customers make the change. In New York, designer canvas grocery bags became instant status symbols, selling out quickly and creating eco-envy.

And now Trader Joe’s has come up with the coolest canvas tote yet. Innocently dubbed the Six-Bottle Beverage Tote, it is clearly designed and sized to snugly hold six bottles of wine. In fact, the cashier who sold us ours called it a wine bag and suggested it would come in handy this summer.

It sells for just 99¢ and is sturdily constructed, with canvas dividers that keep bottles from clinking together. And if you end up partying as our cashier suggested this summer, it’s perfect for toting your empties back home for recycling.

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5 Responses to “Going green, now in a handy six-pack.”

  1. Ronnie Ann Says:

    I don’t mean to be dense, but…although I applaud the idea behind this, aren’t we just going to have to buy plastic bags for our garbage, recyclables, and, in my case, kitty litter? I’ve never had to buy any up to now. I guess over all this will mean a net reduction in plastic bags and that’s a really good thing, but are you sure the bag companies that make Glad or Hefty aren’t behind this?

    I am just kidding. I think.

  2. Terry B Says:

    Ronnie Ann—Yeah, there’s no such thing as no carbon footprint. But I find that we accumulate far more plastic bags at our house than we use for trash or cat litter or whatever. So anything that encourages us to switch to canvas bags will at least reduce plastic bag waste. And coupled with recycling programs, it can further reduce waste.

  3. A Tax con in the UK Says:

    What a con: The British Government have jumped on the Green band wagon to INCREASE TAXES. To increase taxes successfully here you need a plausible reaon, e.g to aid the poor, to build new hospitals or schools, to protect the worlds oceans, its all a game really and if it was promoted by individuals such as your local confidence trickster he’d get 5-10 years in prison. The latest tax increase dodge is large cars use more petrol, so they have to be heavily taxed “to dissuade people buying them and to save the world rescources” .The new taxes announced this week are $1500 per year on large cars and upto $2500+ on tycoon popular cars, including the ever popular 4×4.

    No newspapers ever write the the Government owns or leases literally thousands of cars, including Mercedes, Rolls, Jaguars, and 4X4, and some ministers have 2 at their disposal, including chauffeurs. They also have huge mansions and houses in central London. All this talk about saving the earth is baloney. Right now its fashionable to pick on plastic bags, what they don’t tell you is a small disused quarry can quite easily swallow up and bury all the UKS supply of plastic baghs for the next 100 years. Near where I used to live is an old Council waste / public tip, it was well used for over 40 – 50 years, the total height never went up by over 16 foot over its large derelict land area, they dumped millions of tonnes there, and today its grassed over and unseen. Unless you knew the history of this one site, you would never guess that it provided a waste dump for a very large cities total waste. All governments thrive on taxes, waste, fraud, inflated expenses, and grotesque salaries, what they say and what they do is a trick.

    No one ever asks were the taxes go, after 3 days the subjects completely forgotten, and the taxes raised dissapear into some unknown Government waste-land.

  4. Terry B Says:

    I have to say, Tax con, I agree with the idea of tax gas guzzlers. Sure, there are plenty of people who need big vehicles that can go anywhere, but too often big SUVs bought by people whose big adventure is to trek out to the mall or the grocery store. How many thousands of pounds of metal do you have to haul around to accomplish that?

    Regarding the plastic bags, it’s not just the use of landfill [and while you may hide it all under grass, what’s leaking from it into the water supply?]. It’s also the waste of precious fossil fuel to create the bags. In China, as I said above, that amounts to 37 million barrels of oil saved every year—enough to fuel the average SUV for almost that long.

  5. Warm and sunny: Moroccan Braised Beef — Blue Kitchen Says:

    […] Going green, now in a handy six-pack. As plastic bags go the way of the rotary phone, Trader Joe’s offers quite possibly the coolest alternative yet to paper or plastic, at WTF? Random food for thought. […]

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