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Eco-Friendly Trash Bags

I recently saw a commercial for a certain trash bag company, in which they claim that by purchasing their new stretchy trash bag you would need to use less bags over the course of the year. In fact, I believe they made a claim that if everyone used their stretchier brand of bags, the left unused regular bags could cover the top of a mountain. Now, who knows how accurate their claims may be, but it got me thinking none the less. BLOG-GARBAGEBAGS

Properly disposing of trash is something that everyone must do. In order to do this, we all must use trash bags. What we do have a choice about, is what kind of bags to use. There are tons of environmentally friendly trash bags out there, all you have to do is look. We all ready have one example of how a more flexible bag can reduce the overall number of plastic trash bags you use per year, therefore decreasing the number of bags that end up in landfills.

Recycled bags are also an option. One company, Seventh Generation, claims that if every home in the U.S. replaced a 30 count package of kitchen trash bags made from virgin plastic with ones made from 55% recycled plastic, the U.S. could save over 50,000 barrels of oil. Another choice may be trash bags that are made from a corn based material. One company, BioBag, is making trash bags out of vegetable oils and Mater-Bi (corn based material), and claims its product is 100% biodegradable.

So, if these eco-friendly trash bags can do the same job as a regular plastic bag, while helping the environment, why wouldn’t you switch?


“Green” New Years Resolutions

Every year around this time you start to hear people talk about their “New Years resolution”, all the things they are going to do different to better themselves in the new year. Unfortunately, many of these “resolutions” don’t make it past the first few weeks. Maybe the reason people give up on these resolutions is because it usually involves a large sacrifice of something they enjoy. What if this years resolution wasn’t only to better yourself, but the environment as well? And what if it only meant minor changes in the way you go about your everyday life? Here are a few New Years resolutions that will not only benefit you but all of us.

“Walk or Bike”- If you have the option, walking or biking to work is not only a great exercise but it’s also better for the environment.

“Bring Your Own Water”- Instead of spending a ton of money on plastic water bottles all year, buy one reusable water bottle and fill up at home.

“Reusable Shopping Bags”- My mother has used the reusable shopping bags for years, they are bigger and stronger than the plastic bags they use at the grocery store and, needless to say, drastically cut down on the amount of plastic bags that end up in landfills.

“Eco-friendly Cleaners”- By using green cleaning products (or hiring a cleaning company that does) not only are you helping to keep the environment outside of your house clean from chemicals, you’re also protecting yourself and your family from those harsh chemicals inside.

These are just a few ways you can do things a little differently in the new year that will have a positive impact on yourself and the environment. Happy New Year!

Should Plastic Bags Be Banned?

Almost every grocery store cashier asks you the same question, “paper or plastic?”. It seems that there is a good chance that the “plastic” option may be gone pretty soon. Here is an article from The Wall Street Journal, about the possibility of a ban on plastic bags.

Which side are you on?

Plastic Bags in Boulder – Update from the Boulder City Council

Earlier this month, we covered the City of Boulder’s upcoming agenda item regarding possible regulation of plastic and paper bags.  The Boulder City Council met on May 15th to discuss the range of options for regulating the use of plastic and paper bags.


Plastic bag litter

End of the line for plastic bags?

During the summer of 2011 a number of community members and groups asked City Council to reduce disposable bag use in Boulder through an ordinance and began collecting petition signatures to spur the council to action.  As a result, the council tasked the city staff with exploring options for achieving this goal and invited large stakeholders to take part in the exploratory phase.


Based on the research, the staff presented five possible options at the council meeting:

  1. Fee or tax on plastic and paper bags;
  2. Ban on plastic bags with a fee on paper bags;
  3. Ban on plastic and paper bags;
  4. Educational campaign only; and
  5. No action.

If the chosen approach was an ordinance, its scope would need to address the type of businesses it would apply to, which could include either one or a combination of the following:

  • All retail businesses;
  • Retail businesses over a determined size threshold;
  • Businesses defined as “Food Stores” in the sales tax system;
  • “Food Stores” over a determined size threshold; and/or
  • Business defined as “Eating Places” in the sales tax database.

The city staff took a comprehensive approach to decide on the best option, including researching the results of other municipality’s ordinances on bags; the impact on local businesses big and small, consumer impacts and environmental impacts.

Based on their research and findings the staff recommended the following:

Option 1 – A fee on both disposable plastic and paper checkout bags

A bag tax would have to await voter approval, while a fee can be implemented in the near-term through an ordinance. This option:

  • acknowledges the life cycle environmental impacts of both types of bags, supporting a shift away from disposable bag use in general and not from one type of bag to another;
  • creates an effective financial incentive to change behavior;
  • is acceptable to all of the large grocers since it minimizes their implementation and administrative costs;
  • retains consumer choice and convenience; and
  • helps offset the city costs for implementation, administration, education and strategies to minimize impacts to low income consumers and tourists.

Scope of ordinance: Apply to food stores

This option:

  • targets a majority of bag use in Boulder while maximizing clarity of the ordinance;
  • avoids confusion for businesses around who must comply; and
  • minimizes city resources required for administration, enforcement and monitoring of exemptions and threshold levels.

As mentioned in the meeting minutes (large PDF) the staff felt that including additinoal business types would have a diminishing impact on reducing bag use and would demand more city resources to implement.  The staff state that this ordinance could be expanded in the future if need be.

The meeting minutes (large PDF) includes lots of additional background and data that the city staff used in determining what course of action to recommend.

So readers, what do you think?  Did the city staff make the right decision? If you were on the staff, what would you think based on the data?  Do you feel that a fee on paper and plastic bags will give you an incentive to buy reusable grocery bags?

Image credit: InfinityGivingCircle - Flickr