Monday, February 06, 2006

Political Intervention: Please Re-Use Me

CIMG8675

100 billion shopping bags are consumed in the US annually. This number means that 200,000 bags are used every minute.

With this project I wanted to call awareness to the environmental impact of using disposable shopping bags and to urge people to bring reusable bags or, at least, reuse disposable ones.

I collected paper bags from Ralphs supermarket and screen-printed on them the message: "Please Re-Use Me." The following message was also included:

Every minute 200,000 disposable shopping bag are consumed in the US. The manufacturing and disposal of these bags depletes natural resources and pollutes the environment.
A grocery bag will outlive you by 1000 years. How long did you use it?
Please reuse paper bags or purchase reusable bags. Most supermarkets will refund you 5 cents for every bag you reuse.


These bags were then handed out to shoppers in front of Ralphs in Valencia, CA on Feb. 2, 2oo6.






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2 - IMG_1012 (Medium)


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The scene of the intervention: The Ralphs Supermarket

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Talking to the Manager... who seemed a bit concerned about our activities at first. I handed him a letter, which explained the project and asked the management of Ralphs to urge their customers to bring reusable bags.

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I handed he following letter to the Manager at the Ralphs:


Roman Jaster
24700 McBean Parkway #AR-35
Valencia, CA 91355

Ralphs Fresh Fare
25930 McBean Parkway
Valencia, CA 91355

Feb 2, 2006



To the Manager:

I am a resident of Valencia and a regular shopper at your supermarket. I am writing you today concerning the wasteful use of disposable grocery bags at your store.

During the checkout process, Ralphs gives customers the choice of paper or plastic bags. I have often wondered which of these options presents the most environmentally sound choice. Therefore, I set out to research this issue and discovered shocking news.

The United States consumes 100 billion shopping bags annually. This number means that 200,000 bags are used every minute. These bags, no matter if they are plastic or paper, consume energy, produce waste and present environmental hazards at every step of their lives.

I find it ironic that while plastic shopping bags are used merely for the twenty minutes it may take to carry groceries home, they will outlive the shopper for more than 1000 years.

I know that supermarkets are not the only producers of shopping bag waste. Yet, considering that supermarkets are businesses that everyone frequents on a regular basis, reducing packaging here will make a big impact. You are in a position of responsibility to change people’s habits.

As a first step, you could educate your customers concerning the environmentally damaging effects of shopping bags (both plastic and paper), then offer an alternative: Begin selling reusable tote bags in your checkout lanes. Wholefoods, for example, sells such bags for only $1.99. You could also urge people to reuse their disposable bags. Sturdy paper bags can be reused many times. I applaud your decision to issue a 5 cent refund for every bag returned to your store. This is a great incentive. Unfortunately, this fact is not advertised in your store or on your website.

Reducing the number of disposable bags used is also in your economical interest. As you are aware, purchasing these bags presents a considerable cost. Also, lawmakers are increasingly attentive of this problem and are talking about a "bag tax" if the industry does not lower the amount of bags used.

After all, the right question to ask your customers is not "Do you want paper or plastic?"(or "Is plastic okay?") but rather "Did you bring your own bag?"

I look forward to your response and to beginning an open dialogue concerning this important issue.


Sincerely,


Roman Jaster

40 Comments:

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