Saving our planet; one bag at a time

August 24, 2007

Subway uses 4 million plastic bags every 24 hours?

Filed under: Branding, Environment — Kaajal @ 3:40 pm

Subway needs to heed its own message

I just read a horrifying story here where it says that Subway uses 4 million plastic bags every 24 hours!

Here’s the full story (here’s a link if you’d prefer to read it at the original source – a weblog called Pangaya. Com):

“On occasion I am out during the day and need a quick, and fairly healthy, lunch which inevitably leads to me standing in line at Subway. During a wait not so long ago I finally noticed just how many plastic bags are wasted by those customers who eat in the restaurant instead of taking it to go.

A bit of searching online led me to the Subway website where they proudly state that they sell enough sandwiches each year to circle the globe at least six times. Stated another way, they use enough plastic bags to circle the globe six times! While some of those customers certainly need a bag to cart their order home or to the office, I’m guessing that a fairly large percentage are carried to a nearby table and then dumped in the trash.

Subway sells 2,800 sandwiches and salads every minute in its U.S. locations (keep in mind, Subway operates in 85 countries and has more than 26,500 locations). Do that math and that works out to 168,000 per hour and 4,032,000 every 24 hours in the U.S. alone!

Subway is by no means the only restaurant to produce massive amounts of garbage, but they are one of the few that use plastic bags. Would it really be so difficult to provide in-store recycling, or better yet, just give the sandwich in the paper wrap and skip the bag altogether?”

I can’t agree with him more. This is awful.

But there’s more. Another anti-Subway blog here tells me that their sandwich makers (I’m told they call them sandwich artists) use a fresh pair of gloves for every sandwich they make. Now add that to their packaging waste and what do you have?

4 million plastic gloves also?

One single organization determined to drown our planet in plastic waste!

What a shame. I quite like Subway sandwiches. And I thought I’d lose weight eating them! All I’m feeling right now is disgust!

August 20, 2007

Everyone wants a bag. Specially an environmentally friendly reusable bag.

Filed under: Branding, Environment — Kaajal @ 6:12 pm

Everyone wants a bag.

I remember reading an article in a magazine brought out by the  PPAI (Promotional Products Association of America) which concluded that bags are a wonderful promo choice.

“One great thing about bags is that everybody uses them,” says Andrew Spellman, vice president of corporate markets for TRG Group in St. Louis, Missouri. “Since everyone has stuff to hold, there’s not one person who doesn’t have a bag of some sort. Promotionally speaking, there’s an inherent use value for the recipient, and this means, for the advertiser, there’s the frequent opportunity for seeing the company logo.”

Carol Goebelt, in LaPuente, California, adds they go beyond function: “Besides suiting the need for function, people buy bags for style. They are an extension of the person, and different styles may fit one person but not another.

I completely agree. In today’s world one-size-fits-all just doesn’t cut it. That’s why, at Norquest, we encourage our customers to customize what they are ordering. No fixed notions, no minimums, we don’t put any limits on our customers’ imaginations. It’s our job to make whatever they dream up and we enjoy it.

What goes into choosing a great bag? “Find out exactly who the audience is,” says Mary Jo Welch. “Men are not tote bag people and will use them only when necessary whereas women love them. If kids are involved, a drawstring backpack might do the best job of covering all the bases.”

Not really. There are many tote designs that have a masculine appeal.

One way or the other, there has never been a better time in history to consider an environmentally friendly reusable fabric bag for your next major promotion.

The world is catching on to how much harm plastic bags are doing and people on the street look kindly upon people carrying reusable bags.  And if your logo is on the bag, they admire your company for taking visible and tangible action that they approve of.

Bags work. Everyone loves receiving an attractive bag. And we’ve got plenty. See the variety at And then do remember to see the product pages and see how economically they are priced.

Good looking, economical, something that everybody wants, and admires you for giving away. Isn’t that how you’d like your next promotion to be?

August 17, 2007

Want one of these?

Filed under: Branding, Environment — Kaajal @ 4:27 pm

The world's first stiff jute bag without plastic lining

Like what you see? It’s a jute bag. If you’ve ever seen any jute bags that have this kind of stiffness and body you probably know that it is achieved by laminating a plastic lining on the inside of the bag. So while jute is a natural, eco-friendly product, the plastic lining renders it less so. We’ve been studying this problem for a while and are now able to offer the world’s first stiff and shaped jute bag without a plastic liner. Write to us at info @ to learn more about this nice product.

August 16, 2007

Quebec mulls 20-cent tax on plastic shopping bags

Filed under: Environment — Kaajal @ 2:44 pm

Quebec mulls 20-cent tax on plastic shopping bags

Max Harrold of the Montreal Gazette, quotes the environment minister as saying “We’ll decide on some kind of deterrent this autumn”

I’ve reproduced the entire story here. If you’d like to read the story where it originally appeared on the Gazette’s website click here.

Even while using them to lug groceries yesterday, shoppers at a downtown supermarket agreed plastic bags have become as wasteful as they are handy.

“Yep, they are bad for the environment,” Nan Wang, 32, said as she hoisted two bulging bags out of the PA store on Fort St.

She said she was aware plastic bags can take 400 years to decompose, “but I need them to carry my things,” she said, grudgingly.

“I do reuse them - to pick up after my dog,” she offered.

Hans Chicoine, 45, said he uses a reusable cotton bag to shop, and biodegradable garbage bags.

A 20-cent tax per shopping bag - a “plastax” the Quebec government is considering - would push others to use reusable grocery bags, Chicoine said.

The province is preparing some kind of deterrent, but exactly what is still up in the air, Quebec Environment Minister Line Beauchamp said yesterday.

“We need to endorse the trend among Quebecers to use fewer and fewer plastic bags,” she said before entering a meeting of the provincial Liberal caucus in La Pocatière. “They are a plague on the environment. So we will take a decision this fall.”

Beauchamp added it was too early to say if it would be a law, a bylaw or targeted measures.

Other Liberal MNAs resisted new regulations, however. “Before adopting coercive measures, we need to see what people can do to promote the use of reusable bags. New taxes are never very popular,” Natural Resources Minister Claude Béchard said.

Besides a tax, the government could require merchants to sell only biodegradable bags made with starch and to ban plastic bags, said Jacques Lalonde, founder of EcoContribution, an environmental advocacy group.

But a plastax is preferable to a ban, as it would be faster to impose and more effective, he said.

“A ban would require lots of consultations and preparation. A tax has shown it can work from one day to the next.”

Introduced in 2002, Ireland’s tax of 15 cents per bag reduced their use by 95 per cent in that country, Lalonde said.

Based on the estimate Quebecers use 1.5 billion bags annually, a 90 per cent reduction would generate $30 million for the government, he said.

Noémie Botbol, 22, a green patroller at the Éco-Quartier in the Petite Patrie district, said the time for gentle reminders is over.

“Sadly, people respond only when their wallets are hit,” said Botbol, who bikes through the neighbourhood and advises residents about recycling. “You get two kinds of people: They either care a lot and want to change, or they don’t know and don’t care.”

Back at the supermarket, a 72-year-old man who identified himself only as Ivan said the benefits from reducing plastic bag use wouldn’t be felt for generations.

“The good Earth will take care of herself long after we’re gone.”


A look at how other jurisdictions deal with plastic bags

2002: Ireland introduces its “plastax,” a 15-cent levy on plastic bags given by retailers.

2002: Bangladesh bans polyethylene bags after drains and sewage lines clogged by bags are blamed for health hazards and flooding. If Bangladesh is anything like my home country  India,  the ban probably  isn’t enforced.

March: San Francisco bans petrol-based plastic bags in large supermarkets and pharmacy chains, a U.S. first.

April: Leaf Rapids, Man., becomes Canada’s first plastic shopping bag-free zone: retailers can no longer give away or sell plastic bags for single use.

By 2009: Australia plans to phase out plastic bags.

Source: The Gazette

August 7, 2007

Start your own fad!

Filed under: Branding, Environment — Kaajal @ 4:31 pm

fake Louis Vuitton
What’s a girl got to do to get a fake Louis Vuitton around here?

In this hilarious article in the Village Voice, Lynn Yaeger talks about buying rip-off bags in New York’s Chinatown. Under the humor, though, is the same message the TIME magazine article had – that as they switch from plastic bags to environmentally friendlier reusable bags, women prefer to carry pricier stuff than just opt for the cheapest.

I’ve reproduced the entire article below for your convenience. Click here to go read it at the original Village Voice site.

For almost a year, my friend B. walked around with a crumpled piece of paper in her purse—a picture torn from Women’s Wear Daily of a white canvas tote, like the ones you buy at the art supply store, with a big pink medallion in its center that said “Louis Vuitton.” Vuitton has a habit of launching its bags in magazines long before they’re available in stores as a way to pump up desire, though sometimes this backfires—by the time you can actually buy it, you’re sick of it. That’s what happened with B.’s tote, which Vuitton called the Globus. (Plus, when it finally hit town, it weighed a ton and cost way more than $1,000.) Actually, I’d never even seen anyone with a Globus—and I am someone who looks at handbags—until earlier this year, when I noticed a woman carrying a beat-up, ratty Globus at the 26th Street flea market—a chic young girl, to be sure, but hardly someone who looked like she had $1,500 to spend on a canvas bag.

I loved the way her Globus looked, but I forgot all about it until a few weeks ago, when my intrepid friend J.—who never sees a movie that isn’t bootlegged—called. “Have you been down to Canal lately?” he asked. “You’ve got to see how they’re selling Vuitton now. The guys have cards, and you pick out what you want.” In theory, I adore copies—their upstart impertinence, the fact that they make bags affordable for everybody. I’ve never understood why companies get so crazy trying to stop them. If you don’t want people to copy your bag, why don’t you make something a little harder to rip off than a plastic tote? And isn’t the time to worry when no one wants to copy your products? In any case, since there appear to be plenty of suckers willing to buy the real thing, maybe these companies should just shut up and take the money. But the sad truth is, I am one of those suckers. I own plenty of overpriced originals—ridiculously inflated Prada nylon sacks, limp Fendis printed with silly double Fs. When I try to explain to a friend why I buy these things—”It’s like buying into a dream! It’s a fantasy item!”—she gives me a withering look and says, “It’s a status symbol.”

Well, fair enough, but it’s the whole experience you’re paying for—the fawning salespeople, the fancy presentation (at Prada, your bag comes in a shopping bag tied up with ribbons like a birthday present).

All around lower Broadway, there are extraordinary replica purses in locked showcases, including Goyard totes dangling from the rafters. (So recent and convincing are the Goyard fakes that a Deep Throat at Barneys admitted the store took two bags back before they realized the copies even existed.) Still, there’s nary a Globus—in fact, no Vuitton at all, doubtless because among designer brands, Louis Vuitton is by far the most litigious, going after the sellers on Canal with the fury of a holy jihad. Sure enough, right where J. said, there’s a guy outside the No. 6 train subway stop, very discreetly brandishing a laminated card, maybe 6 x 8, with teeny-tiny pictures of Vuittons on one side and Coaches on the other, but no Globus. When I screw up my courage and ask him if he has it—in a low voice, like I’m buying heroin—he nods and calls to a woman with the broad grin and steely eyes of a true industrialist.

“You alone?” she asks. “I have that bag—$100. Come with me.” We cross Lafayette Street, where Steely Eyes hands me off to another woman, who is sitting on a folding chair in the broiling sun outside a storefront. This new person explains to yet another guy lurking on the sidewalk what I’m looking for. He does a rough drawing of the Globus on a scrap of paper and I nod. Magically, without my asking, the price is lowered to $75, but he says he has no pink trim, only brown. “Well, I’d like to see it,” I say weakly, as if I’m in the Yves Saint-Laurent boutique on Madison Avenue.

So off he goes, somewhere deep in the bowels of the earth under Chinatown, and I am left in the sun to watch the passing show: a family of three, all in sour moods, that Steely Eyes has just delivered—they’re looking for a Vuitton that they’ve picked off a card, but they don’t want to spend $40 for it.

The next arrival is by far the more fascinating. She’s in search of sunglasses—Dior, or maybe Chanel—and she’s sporting a diamond monogram pendant that I am almost positive is by Harry Winston and costs in the vicinity of $12,000. (If it’s fake, I’ve never seen anything like it.) Her very presence throws into chaos my entire belief system: I have always determined whether a bag is real or fake not by the quality of the bag itself (almost impossible), but by sizing up—and costing out—whatever else the person carrying it is wearing. But if Ms. Moneybags is mixing fake shades with Harry Winston, maybe everyone I see—on the subway, in the ladies’ room at Bergdorf Goodman, in the audience at Xanadu—is carrying a fake. Everyone but me.

Finally, after what seems like the better part of an hour, my guy is back. He’s bearing not a beribboned package but a garbage bag, and in it is my Globus. Trouble is, we can’t take it out of the bag: I’m allowed to peek in, which I do, but when I say I don’t care for the brown medallion after all, the woman in charge goes ballistic. “Oh my God! My brother got brown!” “I told you brown!” the brother chimes in, furious.

Now, I don’t just feel like a criminal, but also an ingrate, a user, a cold, unfeeling person who took up nearly an hour of these hard-working people’s time. I walk swiftly—OK, I run—across the street, where I immediately see a couple of other gentlemen lurking with cards. I am tempted to try again—maybe someone else has pink?—but am suddenly seized with the thought that maybe they all work for Steely.

Terrified of another confrontation and feeling unaccountably guilty over the whole ordeal, I scamper up Greene Street, where I find myself inside the gleaming, air-conditioned, near-empty Vuitton store, a far cry from Canal’s raffish encampments. And there I discover this summer’s version of the Globus. It’s called the PM Street, for some unfathomable reason ( pas mal? pauvre moi?), and made of leather cunningly woven to resemble those plaid plastic shopping totes for sale in third-world markets and usually carried only by people of extremely limited means. Of course, the original version—of which, ironically, this is clearly a copy—lacks the round Vuitton logo, but then again it is also available for substantially less than $1,800. Sick and campy and in extremely bad taste this item may be, but I am ashamed to say I kind of like it. Oh, well, what’s the hurry? Steely and company will be stuffing its likeness into a trash bag any day now.

Or, if you don’t want to go through all this, whip up a message, have us make the ags for you, sand start your own fad. Forget the bootleg thrill and put your own signature on it.

Paper, Plastic or Prada?

Filed under: Branding, Environment — Kaajal @ 4:00 pm

Paper, Plastic or Prada?
TIME magazine discusses the plastic bag issue in their last issue. The title of the article is Paper, Plastic or Prada? And it is a well written summary of the issues involved. As every well informed and right thinking author would, Lisa McLaughlin concludes that recycling and all that is okay, but reuse is eventually the only real solution.

What savvy marketers will find interesting is that the millions who are making the switch to environmentally friendlier alternatives aren’t always opting for the cheapest solution. In fact, they are opting for bags that reflect their style and panache and character. If you can do that for just a few dollars more, they say, why not?

I’ve reproduced the entire article below if you’d like to read it here. Click here to go to the TIME website and read it there.

Paper, Plastic or Prada?

Thursday, Aug. 02, 2007 By LISA MCLAUGHLIN

For fashion-conscious women, every season has an It handbag. Shopping blogs, lunch hours and entire episodes of Sex and the City are devoted to discussing the waiting lists, long lines and bribes to key salespeople often required to get an early shot at the most sought-after Birkin, Marc Jacobs, Balenciaga or Fendi baguette. So when the newest must-have tote, designed by British bag guru Anya Hindmarch, went on sale in England in April, it wasn’t terribly unusual that devotees began lining up at 2 a.m. or that all 20,000 coveted pieces were gone by 9 a.m. What was odd was that instead of queuing up in front of department stores or exclusive boutiques, fashion addicts were camped outside of humdrum supermarkets. And the bag in question was not one of Hindmarch’s luxurious metallic clutches but a $15 canvas tote designed for ferrying groceries home and embroidered with the phrase I’M NOT A PLASTIC BAG.

The frenzy surrounding these limited-edition bags–several would-be owners were trampled in Taipei, Taiwan, in July, the same month in which a mob of Hindmarch fans forced police to shut down a mall in Hong Kong–is the result of a calculated effort to encourage shoppers to use fewer disposable plastic sacks, some 88 billion of which are consumed each year in the U.S. alone, with many ending up stuck in trees, clogging roadside drains and killing the birds and sea creatures that accidentally ingest them. As legislators around the globe debate whether to tax or ban outright these petroleum-based products–which experts estimate take up to 1,000 years to decompose–celebrities have been doing their part to steer consumers down a greener path. This year’s trendy eco-tote has been photographed on the arms of actresses Keira Knightley, Alicia Silverstone and Reese Witherspoon.

And Hindmarch isn’t the only high-priced designer–her wares typically cost thousands of dollars apiece–trying to improve the world one purse at a time. Joining her in the attempt to persuade fashionistas to carry their groceries home in a reusable bag is Stella McCartney, the English designer–and daughter of Sir Paul–whose organic cotton shopper retails for $495. Hermes’ collapsible silk bag costs nearly double that, while Louis Vuitton’s canvas tote retails for a staggering $1,720. Of course, people who can handle those kinds of price tags are probably outsourcing their grocery shopping. But Hindmarch thinks such fashion symbols can have a powerful ripple effect. “There was a time when what was cool was drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes,” she says. “Now it’s all healthy living, and I think fashion had a part in that–people seeing photos of models and celebrities–Gwyneth Paltrow walking around carrying yoga mats and bottled water.”

But being the Prius of plastic bags has its pitfalls. After the stampede in Taipei, sales of the Hindmarch bag were canceled in Beijing, Jakarta, Shanghai and Singapore. And to add irony to injury, some of the I’m Not a Plastic Bag totes sold after the near riot in Hong Kong were triple-wrapped in plastic bags in an effort to keep their new owners from being mugged on their way home.

Even so, the antiplastic movement is well under way. Bangladesh, France, Uganda and a few other countries have approved nationwide bans of the flimsy flyaway sacks. San Francisco this spring became the first U.S. city to ban nonbiodegradable bags from large grocery stores and pharmacies, and similar legislation is being debated in Boston; Santa Cruz, Calif.; and Portland, Ore. In Annapolis, Md., alderman Sam Shropshire is pushing for what would be among the strictest plastic regulations in the world: banishing plastic bags not only from big retailers but from small ones too, forcing mom-and-pop restaurants, for example, to abandon leakproof doggie bags. “With our proximity to the Chesapeake Bay, there’s no other option for the protection of our sea life,” says Shropshire.

Environmentalists applaud such efforts but worry about an unsavory side effect: increased use of paper bags. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, demand for paper bags in the U.S. consumes 14 million trees a year. And the Environmental Protection Agency has noted that the production of paper bags involves more energy use and water pollution than that of plastic bags. Paper bags are heavier–and therefore use more fossil fuel during shipping–although they are biodegradable and recyclable. They’re also more expensive for retailers, at 5.7¢ per bag (and up to 17.6¢ for ones with handles) in contrast to 2.2¢ per plastic bag. Given the downside to both paper and plastic, perhaps that $1,720 tote isn’t so outrageous. “Everyone has framed the debate incorrectly,” says Shropshire. “It’s not paper vs. plastic. It’s about getting rid of plastic in favor of recycled paper or reusable bags.”

That will be an uphill battle. Plastic bags have their own lobbyists, who don’t appreciate lectures from the catwalk. The Progressive Bag Alliance, which represents major plastic-bag makers, maintains that bags aren’t the problem. Littering is. In an attempt to turn the tables on the eco-chic movement, the alliance has begun an unsubtle anti-Hindmarch campaign by emblazoning their signature product–using a bubble print strikingly similar to the one on her popular tote–with a defiant message: I AM A PLASTIC BAG, AND I AM 100% RECYCLABLE.

The trouble is that California is one of the few places to mandate that stores offer plastic-bag recycling, and the industry has been slow to volunteer elsewhere. Less than 1% of bags are recycled in the U.S., according to the Washington-based Worldwatch Institute. Major chains like Giant Foods are trying to improve that statistic by giving rebates to shoppers who return plastic bags for recycling, although few consumers take advantage of the policy. In March, Ikea began charging a nickel per plastic bag and selling a reusable tote for 59¢. While it’s still too soon to tell how this strategy has affected U.S. consumers, a similar program launched in the U.K. last year reduced plastic-bag consumption 95%. Ireland has reported a similar decline since the country instituted a roughly 20¢-per-bag “plastax” in 2002.

Designer bags may make such taxes and prohibitions more palatable. But even Hindmarch concedes that her canvas tote has its limits. “I have five kids,” she explains, which adds up to a lot of groceries–and she’s still not willing to ditch the plastic when bringing home a smelly fish or other items with leak potential. But the combination of stylish looks and too-thin wallets may drive real change. Thousands of shoppers camped out in Dublin in July to get a Hindmarch bag. And many of this season’s trendy $15 eco-tote bags have been selling on eBay for more than $400. Which means that this year’s environmental slogan could be reduce, reuse, resell.

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