Things I Love Thursday… Innovation.

Today is the LAST DAY to enter to win the BACK TO SCHOOL PACKAGE. Contest closes 12:01 AM PST August 1, 2008.

I’m always on the lookout for ways to be a little greener, more Earth Friendly, a little wiser… a fan of true innovation, of thinking outside of the box, of looking for a better way. What do I do when I stumble across something new and exciting? Why, I share it with you.

We have seen examples of corporate innovation over and over again, with products like Preserve (personal products, tableware and kitchen essentials made from recycled yogurt cups) and Greenware (plastic ware made from corn). Every time I stumble across something, I get a little tingle of excitement.

I’m the lady waltzing through high end malls, where the median household income is 85k annually while carrying a bright green minus one reusable bag from Whole Foods. I’ve shamed cashiers who start to throw the bag away when they are quicker than I and we have to unbag my goods and transfer them to the tote. The purpose of leaving the bag behind is to save it for someone else, not to send it to an early death in the landfill. When I forget my tote, I have been known to carry out my goodies at the grocery by the armful, waving my receipt at the employee posted to monitor the door. Innovation or just crazy? You decide.

This past weekend, we had a discussion at a gathering of friends, people were complaining about the possibility of implementing a bag tax locally and how hard it is to remember their reusable totes. I heard comments about how much they HATE the bottle deposit (which increased recycling rates in Oregon to 90% versus the non-deposit states average of 28%). The reasoning was that these people ALWAYS recycled their bottles/cans/bags/etc… I explained that while a few of us do recycle regardless of deposits and taxes to provide the incentive, the mass doesn’t and that’s why we need these regulations. Seriously, how hard is it to carry a reusable tote around? I often forget mine in the car, which simply means a little extra exercise while we (meaning Oregon Dad) dash out for it prior to checking out. It’s a simple matter to get a couple of those tiny totes that fold up into mini pouches, carry them in your pockets or handbags. I think if we start getting taxed for the bags we take out of the store, more people will get in the habit of bringing their totes and will realize its not hard.

During this conversation, I brought up this nifty little plastic bag used at The Body Shop.

Photobucket Photobucket

This tote is unique because it decomposes, that is returns to, well, DIRT within 12 months. Plastic takes 700 years to begin to decompose in the landfill. 700 years to 12 months? Now, that’s innovation.

Of course, bringing up this tote brought a new twist to the bag conversation. If The Body Shop can do it, why can’t EVERY store? I pointed out the cost factor (every one of the people in this conversation have college degrees, many post-graduate degrees and work with costing every.single.day, so I shouldn’t have to go there.), stores do not want to absorb the cost of producing a more expensive bag, and of course, if stores did provide these kind of bags the cost would be passed on to the consumer in other ways. Why would most corporations go to that expense when they can pass the buck by pushing their reusable totes. I would LOVE to see more biodegradable bags in malls, shopping centers, grocers and quick marts. Plastic bags often litter our seashores and pose a real threat to animals and the beauty of our planet. However, I do not feel that is a realistic theory.

What can you do? Think outside of the box (or the bag). Carry reusable totes EVERYWHERE. I have started grabbing a canvas tote or grocery tote no matter what errand I’m on, even if I don’t plan to purchase anything. They are great for carrying my library books, kids snacks, beach toys, things to drop at the donation center, etc… for an everyday outing, I will toss my handbag and Klean Kanteen inside along with a granola bar and fruit leather.

One grocery tote can hold as many groceries as 3-4 plastic baggies, and you don’t have to worry about the tears and spills. They sit nicely in the trunk or on the floor board, so you don’t have to go fishing under the seats for lost items.

When you do bring home store bags, reuse and recycle them. Plastic bags clog the standard recycling systems, so take them back to the stores to be recycled or simply use them again and again until they wear out, then recycle them. Do NOT throw plastic bags in the trash or in your curbside recycling (unless your recycling program specifically states it is okay.) Paper is NOT better than plastic, it has a whole different set of issues… so select the bag that you are most likely to be able to use and use and use some more.

For large shopping trips, consider a reusable box-type tote. These can also be left in the back of your car to hold your grocery totes in an orderly manner. I love having a large tote in my car that I can use for groceries, fill up with yard sale finds or fill with my drop off donations.

Shop at stores who are doing something to make a difference. The Body Shop, while far from perfect, goes beyond these nifty plastic bags. They are against animal testing and have introduced a line of paraben/preservative free products. You will often also find products that benefit a specific issue, such as AIDS.

Now, you might be wondering how I (of all people) ended up with a plastic tote from The Body Shop. Well, that’s quite simple. I was chatting with the sales lady about the new paraben free products and purchasing a couple of lip balms for AIDS benefit, while indicating that I wouldn’t need a bag. The cool saleslady then whips out her bag and proceeds to tell me all about it. I was like, “oh, cool… well, I will take a bag today then so I can blog about it.” And that my friends, is the story of how I ended up with a plastic store bag.

If you are looking for fun, unique bags that compliment your personality here are some ideas:

Alchemy Recycled Ad Bag

b. happy bags

For the Guys… how about a BYOB tote?

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About PolkaDotMommy

Wife to a teacher extraordinaire... Mama to Five littles... Conservative Catholic Christian with a Strong Environmentalist Mentality... Respecting Life... Living for our Savior... Learning to trust God in all things.
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8 Responses to Things I Love Thursday… Innovation.

  1. I have so switched to reusable that my daugther throws a fit if someone tries to give us a plastic bag. There is just no point in them these days.

  2. Brooke says:

    I love my reusable bags, but I do have a problem with the government mandating a fee to use plastic bags. However if the stores wanted to voluntarily start this, I’m sure it would encourage more people to remember their bags. I keep mine folded up in the driver’s side door compartment of my car so I’ll see them as I’m getting out. The rest are in my trunk for convience.

  3. I admit that I forget my reusable bags all too often and I feel guilty every time I do! However I do remember to take in the bags I do get when I forget and recycle them. A friend of mine is especially ben on getting my family to give up plastic bottles taht my hubby takes to work (water, gatorade, etc.) That is our next task. great post and thanks for visiting my blog!

  4. Ali says:

    It caught my eye when you said that you were always looking for enviormentally friendly products and get jazzed when you find them.
    I thought you might be interested in checking out the Starling Paper Notebooks which are lined and come in 3 cool designs. These notebooks are made with windpower, vegetable ink, and 100% post-consumer recycled paper.

    Ali
    Plain White Press
    wwww.plainwhitepress.com

  5. Ames says:

    Yes, yes, yes!

    You know they just stopped having plastic bags at IKEA? You get to the checkout and either purchase one of their blue or yellow boat-bags for something like 89 cents, or you carry your stuff. A little hardcore, but effective. I keep my reusable bags in the car, with some little crocheted net bags for produce tucked inside.

  6. Char says:

    We’ve switched to reusable bags (well, when I remember them – which is 90% of the time). We love them!

  7. Kelsey says:

    We have made the switch too!

  8. I kind of have an issue with the government mandating “special bags”, but there is a good intention there.

    We grew up with recycling bottles and cans in Michigan and I was surprised when I grew up and went to other states that it didn’t happen there too.

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