Saving our planet; one bag at a time

April 26, 2004

Papua New Guinea leads by example!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rajiv Badlani @ 3:10 pm

I’m sure the words Papua New Guinea don’t immediately bring a picture of progressive governance to your mind (probably conjures up exotic images of tribals and beaches) but don’t underestimate them - just look at this major step they’ve taken.

The Papua New Guinea government has ordered a ban on plastic shopping bags in a bid to curb a major littering problem across the country.

To give them credit, many Indian state governments have also banned plastic bags, but when you look around you, it appears that no one has heard of this ban. They’re being distributed like they’re going out of style and factories are churning them out by the millions.

Sad. We also happen to be the world’s largest exporter of cotton and jute bags. These attractive and economical bags are saving the world from being choked by plastic but not being used here where the damage is as much.

To see just how attractive and economical they can be see

April 19, 2004

Paper and plastic don’t cut it. Reusable cloth bags are the only sensible choice.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rajiv Badlani @ 3:07 pm

The best choice isn’t paper or plastic, says Wayne Parker in an article in the Pacific Business News.

He says “When faced with the question of paper vs. plastic bags at the local supermarket, the correct choice, according to environmental officials, is neither of the above. The best environmental choice is to skip a bag altogether, or if one is necessary, shoppers should take their own reusable shopping bags”.

You bet, Wayne!

Plastic bags get used once and then continue to contaminate our planet for 3000 years. Paper bags cause trees to get cut down – also for just one use. Cloth bags make so much more sense.

Each bag gets reused as many as 500 times. And every time they get reused, they are a potential walking billboard for some perceptive company that understands 360 degree branding and understands that consumers respect brands not for what they claim, but for the actions they take.In short your brand image isn’t determined what you say, but what you do.

See these powerful branding devices and find out how easy and economical they are at

April 18, 2004

Re-usable shopping bags do make a difference!

Filed under: Environment — Kaajal @ 2:21 am

Even as Planet Ark says 7% against the Australian environment minister Ian Campbell’s claim of 29%, the fact remains that Australia’s plastic bag usage has gone down substantially from the 6.9 billion plastic bags they used last year.

Senator Campbell said the ARA’s figures amounted to a reduction of more than half a billion bags. “If we maintain this effort we could slash plastics bags by over one billion by the end of the year,” he said.

It seems (says the Herald Sun) that the non-supermarket retailers haven’t kept pace with the big boys in this reduction effort.

Now this could be because the average mom and pop store doesn’t have access to re-usable bags at the same low prices that supermarkets can get them for.

Hello, Australian entrepreneurs. There’s all us bag manufacturers just waiting for someone to take advantage of that situation. See the collossal range we offer at Talk to us today

This is also an invitation to thinking entrepreneurs in other parts of the world to discuss their markets’ needs. Imagine making money while saving the world. I can’t think of a nicer business to be in. Can you?

April 12, 2004

Looks like the world’s going to be in good hands!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rajiv Badlani @ 3:04 pm

A few months back our Australian associate Tom Rayner ( forwarded me a mail he got from a 13 year old young lady who was going to be the Australian delegate to the International Children’s Conference on the Environment in Connecticut

She’s recognised how dangerous plastic bags are. To spread the message at the conference she wanted 100 cotton bags. We were more than happy to sponsor the bags, if she found someone else to pick up the tab for the shipping (costs a fair bit as we’re in India).

I suggested she write to Fedex or UPS or an airline, and she went to work and got the Australian Postal Service to sponsor the shipping

Meanwhile, she got Tom at Rayner Associates to sponsor a website for her and her weblog

Great going, particularly when you consider that this is a 13 year old girl. She’s shown more enterprise and get up and go than most adults I know.

We consider it a privilege to have been able to be involved with her effort and I am proud to know her.

Lauren, with kids like you running the world tomorrow, I’m sure it will be a nicer place than it is today!

If you have a cause and we can help in any way, visit us at and tell me how.

Biodegradable plastic bags claim turns out to be a hoax

Filed under: Environment — Kaajal @ 1:52 am

Isn’t it kind of stupid, fellow citizens of earth, to take a strong material that lasts forever and waste it on an application where it is used once and then harms you forever, instead of using something that you can use again and again and which doesn’t harm but enriches your soil even when its utility is through?

The sensible solution is at my website. The dumb one is discussed below in a story called “Degradable bags can last years” By Melissa Fyfe - The Age, Australia

Misleading and extravagant claims were being made about “degradable” plastic bags and their use could be harming the environment, an expert warns.

The bags, which contain a chemical that eventually breaks down the plastic, are widely available at independent supermarkets such as Ritchies, and the plastic is also used to make some garbage and courier bags.

They have become a popular alternative with some retailers, amid Government efforts to tackle Australia’s 6.9-billion-a-year plastic bag problem.

Professor Greg Lonergan, an Australian expert on the biodegradability of plastic, told The Age he had tested many of the bags and found the manufacturers’ claims to be extravagant.

“Generally, our experience (at the Swinburne University of Technology) testing degradable bags has been very poor,” he said. “At this stage, if a bag says it is degradable I would treat that as meaningless - I would treat it as a normal bag.

“The public have a perception that bags with the word ‘degradable’ means they will disappear quite quickly and that’s not the case,” he said.

Professor Lonergan said that “degradable” was misleading, because everything eventually degrades, even if it takes hundreds or thousands of years, which may be the case with plastic. The question, he said, was how long it took to degrade. Tests at Swinburne showed the bags could last more than five years.

Canadian company EPI, the major supplier of degradable plastic in Australia, said a bag will not start to break down for 18 to 24 months. After that, it depended on how much it was exposed to sunlight and stress.

EPI chief executive Joseph Gho said the company had not done thorough tests under Australian conditions, but it was thought the bags would break down after three or four months if under direct Queensland sun.

We’ve taken 10 to 12 years developing this technology and we’ve employed some world-class scientists to work with us, in the areas of degradability and biodegradability,” said Mr Gho.

There are other problems with this type of plastic. An expert report to the federal Environment Department last year found these types of “oxo-biodegradable” bags break down into smaller pieces of plastic that “might make them more attractive to smaller animals such as sea turtle hatchlings”.

The report The impacts of degradable plastic bags in Australia, also said the bags can contaminate the kerbside recycling of plastics, as the active chemical works to weaken and destabilise plastic.

Professor Lonergan’s comments come after the Federal Court last month found misleading claims were made about Earthstrength bags, widely available in supermarkets. Distributor Lloyd Brooks was ordered to stop supplying the bags, which it claimed would biodegrade in 28 days, and later admitted they could take years to biodegrade.

April 5, 2004

Little guys need to brand too…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rajiv Badlani @ 1:55 pm

Branding is essential for the little guys, too says Michael Schwarz in USA TODAY.

But when you read this, pay special attention to what he says in his last para. People eventually judge you by what you do, not by what you claim.

If your behaviour contradicts what you’ve claimed all your advertising looks like one big lie.

Perhaps a new marketing mantra ought to be “Make sure you don’t have any Weapons of Mass Destruction type fantasies in your marketing story. The harder you hype, the harder you fall!”

Anyway, on to Michael’s very insightful points:

Q: We hear so much about branding these days, but it really seems like a big business concept. Do you think branding is something that applies equally to small businesses?
Hugh, Manitoba, Canada

A: I most certainly do. First, let’s be clear about the concept. Gene Simmons, lead man of the rock band Kiss once remarked that while he liked being in a rock and roll band, he loved being in a rock and roll brand. What did he mean by that? Think about Kiss for a moment. What images and feelings come to mind? Probably that distinctive Kiss logo, the white makeup, the outrageous shows, the wild stories. Kiss carefully cultivated that billion dollar bad boy image and it’s worth a fortune to them. That is what Simmons meant; having a band is great, but it’s the brand that pays the bills.

What do you think of when you think about Rolls Royce, or Nike, or Apple Computer? Each business evokes very clear thoughts, feelings, and images. They all have a strong corporate identity, or brand, associated with their name, and it is no accident. These companies have spent a lot of money getting you to conjure up specific images and feelings when you think about their business.

So the idea of creating a brand for your business is really quite important. While it might seem that creating a brand is beyond your reach, that branding is a concept for the “Big Boys,” think again. Branding is something you can, and must, do too.

Here’s why: Boiled down to its basics, a brand is the essence of what makes your business unique. It combines your name, logo, and purpose into an identifiable whole. Are you the friendly lawyer, the holistic market, the geeky computer consultant, or what? Without a brand, you may find that instead of being all things to all people, you are nothing to no one. A brand is a hook to hang your hat on, so that people remember you, which is probably more important to a small business than anyone else.

You begin to create a brand by carefully thinking about what your business is, what makes it unique, who your customers are, and what it is they want. Deciding upon a brand is vital because many other decisions will hinge on this one. Your name, logo, slogan, even the location you choose and your pricing structure depend on the brand you are trying to create. A discount motorcycle warehouse will put things together far differently than a Harley showroom.

You want to create a consistent theme through your ads, pricing, logo, etc. which reinforces the image you intend to create.

But branding goes even beyond that. Since your brand is based both on how you want to be perceived, and how you are in fact perceived, it follows that the other half of brand building is creating positive perceptions based on substance as well as style. How?

1. Discover what you do best and do it, again, and again, and again: A brand is a promise which essentially boils down to: ‘If you buy from us, and you know what you will be getting’ e.g., Volvos® are safe or Atkins® helps you lose weight. The key is consistency.

2. Offer superior customer service: All your hard work creating that cool brand will be a waste of time and money if it isn’t reinforced by happy customers. Customers should find it easy to work with you or buy from you.

3. Be a mench: Mench is a Yiddish word that basically means “a good person.” If your business practices mench ethics, your brand grows. While good looks may get you a date, being a mench will get you a mate. Pay invoices on time. Do more than asked of you. Do things when not asked. Help out in the community. That also builds your brand.

Remember, the two keys to establishing a strong brand are developing a specific identity, and then communicating that identity consistently. Do that, and your small business will have a hook that is memorable.

Today’s tip: Warning! You cannot get by on brand alone. That is the lesson of the dotcom fallout. Take for example. That high-flying startup burned through multiples of millions of dollars, mostly because it focused far more on branding than it did on business. Its once-famous sock puppet was interviewed by People magazine and was on Good Morning America, but the company soon learned that creating an identifiable brand is not the same as creating a valuable business.

Read more on branding for small business at and at

April 4, 2004

Plastic bags are killing whales

Filed under: Environment — Kaajal @ 1:01 am

I read an article Rob Crilly and Emma Newlands wrote for The Herald in Scotland about a whale that was washed up on the Hebridean coast. Its stomach was filled with plastic bags.

More evidence that plastic bags are playing havoc with life as we know and love it. A recent survey found scraps of plastic inside 96% of seabirds tested.

Marine creatures mistake plastic bags for food such as jellyfish or squid.

Dr Dan Barlow, head of research at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “It’s quite clear that plastic bags are a pollutant in their own right, and not only do they use a lot of resources in their production, but also because of the way they’re disposed of.

“The fact that a lot of marine life is being affected by plastic bags shows that we really need to levy some sort of plastic bag tax if we are to save resources and help the environment. The sooner this happens in Scotland the better.”

A plastic bag tax of about 15p introduced in Ireland in 2002 has cut their use by 90% and reduced litter.

Research revealed at the weekend also suggested that many seabirds were being turned into living dustbins.

The study by Dutch scientists of fulmars, gull-like seabirds which nest around Britain’s coast, showed that 367 of 382 birds studied had ingested plastic waste.

About a million birds and 100,000 mammals and turtles are estimated to become entangled in marine rubbish around the world each year.

Surface-feeding species of bird, such as albatrosses, shearwaters, petrels and gulls, are the most susceptible to eating debris.

An autopsy on a Minke whale in France in April 2002 found just under 1lb of plastics in its stomach, including two English supermarket plastic bags.

A leatherback turtle washed ashore in Scotland in the 1990s showed that it appeared to have died from starvation caused by plastic and metal litter blocking its digestive tract.

What makes this most tragic is how easily avoidable this is. All we need to do is to carry cloth bags with us when we go shopping (leave a few in the car, have a depository at all our local shops, there are many solutions).

Most humans have no concept of the scale of this problem. Now that you’ve read this, I hope you will stop using plastic bags from this moment. If you’d like to take a little initiative to encourage your friends to also do so, write to me, I have a method to suggest.

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