Saving our planet; one bag at a time

August 31, 2004

Indian army stores take ecological lead

Filed under: Branding — Kaajal @ 3:02 am

Plastic bags are affecting the environment in India more than in most countries because of our complete lack of discipline and enforcement.

People throw plastic bags everywhere. Though we have legislation in place banning the manufacture and use of thin-gauge plastic bags, these laws exist only on paper, are flouted every day, and plastic bags continue to be thrown away everywhere.

You see them everywhere.

The streets are littered with plastic waste and animals continue to ingest them, mistaking them for food.

The Indian cow, considered sacred by the Hindu religion, is one of the greatest sufferers. Cows on Indian streets now have the trademark bloated stomach that is a result of their digestive systems being choked with indigestible plastic bags.

To me it seems that our government has given up on law enforcement, particularly on seemingly small issues (we have bigger problems! Always!). Awareness of the immense harm these innocuous looking things do is very, very low.

The CSD (Canteen Stores Department), the establishment that runs specially subsidized consumer stores for all armed forces personnel has quietly started enforcing this ban in a simple and effective manner.

They don’t give away plastic bags. End of story. Either you bring your own cloth bag or you do without. A couple of trips home lugging things without a bag to carry them in and you will not forget to carry your own bag.

Army cantonments are already much cleaner than Indian towns and cities. Now they will be even cleaner.

Well done, chaps! I’m proud of yo

August 30, 2004

Plastic bags kill 10,000 Mediterranean fish each day!

Filed under: Environment — Kaajal @ 2:59 am

Online Greek publication today published this shocking fact.

“There will have to be a change in the law forcing supermarkets to charge for shopping bags so that their excessive use, which is detrimental to the environment, can stop,” said Apostolos Alexakis, president of the Association of Greek Supermarkets.

An average store serves about 800 customers a day, each uses four plastic bags on average. Each supermarket gives away roughly 3,200 bags a day and with some 2,500 stores nationwide, this leads to 8 million plastic bags being used daily by customers.

As a result, some 60,000 tons of plastic bags, which are not biodegradable, end up in landfill sites around Greece each year, according to recycling experts. And they get into the seas, and kill more than 10,000 fish a day. Every day!

Alexakis said that if customers are charged for their shopping bags, this number could be halved. He added that the move could also lead to cheaper products since the 2 cents or so that each bag costs are incorporated into the price of items on the supermarket shelves.

Supermarket owners are willing to consider charging for plastic shopping bags and encouraging customers to bring their own, and would be interested in adopting a system similar to that used in other European countries, such as Ireland, whereby customers bring cloth bags from home for their shopping, or are charged for each plastic bag they use.

Greece is one of the most beautiful places on earth, and I’m so glad they are taking the problem seriously.

August 16, 2004

Japan addresses plastic bags waste issue

Filed under: Environment — Kaajal @ 2:57 am

The Daily Yomiuri today reported that Japan’s Environment Ministry has decided to forbid retailers to hand out free bags.
The ministry hopes to submit a bill to revise the law in the ordinary Diet session next year.

Wise. The Japanese throw away 30 billion plastic bags annually.

As one of the cleanest, most well-kept societies in the world, the Japanese have a deep stake in keeping their environment safe from the havoc that plastic bags wreak on the world.

The National Association of Super Markets expressed some sympathy for the idea saying in a statement, “We can reduce free handouts of plastic bags by charging the shoppers, which would cut the cost at supermarkets.” However, it also expressed concern over receiving complaints from shoppers and expected a decline in sales.

The success of Australian communities in reducing plastic bags waste might assuage their worries. The Japanese are an aware society. Just a couple of activists can probably translate a rule into a personal mission for individuals.

Like Ben Kearney did in Coles Bay, Australia. Coles Bay saved their town from more than 300000 plastic bags by introducing an attractive and practical alternative. On our website, we call it the # B06.

It’s made from nonwoven polypropylene. Not in itself an ecological material, but reusable, and well designed.

At Norquest, we’ve now developed a version from laminated jute. Acting from the belief that most humans prefer the textures of nature. If you’re going to use a reusable shopping bag we might as well design one that looks and feels good to you. The jute version is an absolute delight. We’ll have a picture up very soon.

We have lots and lots of attractive and economical options on show at and we hope we’ll get more Japanese folks looking at them now.

Well done, Japan! Way to go!

August 13, 2004

Internal Branding

Filed under: Environment — Kaajal @ 4:48 am

Too many discussions on branding focus on projecting a brand to external audiences. To the extent that branding gets considered as being synonymous with advertising.

I disagree. I think the place a branding exercise starts from is within the organisation. It is only when an organisation is in total internal agreement on the subject of “who we are and how we behave” that it is actually equipped to deliver a consistent branding message to the external world.

One of the most effective ways to make this happen is to conduct role-playing exercises on how the folks within the organisation would like to be treated by the suppliers they do business with.

At some level each one of us a buyer of goods and services, and we have no difficulty in differentiating between who gives us great service and who doesn’t.

Human beings have a wonderful characteristic. We all know what we like and what we don’t. Stands to reason that if an experience doesn’t appeal to us, it wouldn’t appeal to our customers either.

It isn’t difficult, then, to take this into a discussion of where we could improve our service standards.

This is a simple exercise, doesn’t cost anything at all, and helps bind the organisation into one that is on the same wave-length where service and quality are concerned.

It works. Try us out for your next requirement of bags and see how we measure up. If we don’t exceed your highest expectations, please tell us so. We’ll listen and we’ll learn every time. And you’ll have an even more pleasing supplier.

A look at will tell you that our efforts have met with some success, but we believe we have a lot more to achieve.

To all the customers who’ve said kind things to us. Thank you. Your appreciation matters a lot to us; it helps to keep us striving. But, please don’t pull your punches. If we do anything at all that doesn’t please you, please tell us!

We also use this to learn how to deal with the folks who we buy from. We don’t like being treated in some ways, and those guys are every bit as human as we are.

August 12, 2004

Here it is - the jute supermarket bag

Filed under: Branding — Kaajal @ 2:54 am

Sure is a great looking bag, isn’t it? We call it the Jute #B06.

Attractive, economical and capable of saving the world from the waste of as many as 1000 plastic bags, this bag is a hero!

Packing and shipping costs are being worked out even as I write this, and we hope to have this lovely bag up on our website very soon.

August 2, 2004

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

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rajiv Badlani @ 2:29 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.

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