Saving our planet; one bag at a time

June 7, 2004

Sad saga of a plastic bag. A good read.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rajiv Badlani @ 3:20 pm

I’ve just copied this story from globeandmail.com. I think it makes a great read! Imagine this happening all over as it is bound to if we don’t find a way to stop people from using plastic bags. Reusable bags are so much more logical and so affordable at you can see at www.badlani.com

A sad saga of a plastic bag
We’re told to be careful what we wish for and I believe this to be sage advice.
By ELAINE OPHUS
Tuesday, April 5, 2005 Page A20

While driving to work recently, I was struck by the sight of a plastic grocery bag being blown down the street by the wind, rolling along in a swirl of dust like some kind of modern-day urban tumbleweed. Suddenly I was back in Edmonton, and it was winter, 1994.

Of the 18 winters I spent in Alberta, this was the coldest, the longest, the dreariest. Even the platitudes that usually brought comfort weren’t working. (”It’s a dry cold.” “It’s a sunny cold.” Ha.) As December dragged into January, then February, the prospect of spring seemed to be receding rather than approaching.

Our house backed onto a busy four-lane thoroughfare. The level of the backyard was somewhat higher than the avenue itself, and a tall privacy fence screened the yard from the traffic noise. Outside the fence was a sparse row of trees growing on a flat, grassy berm, which then sloped sharply to the street. These trees were so slender as to be spindly, and so tall that only their topmost branches were visible from the backyard. The view from the top floor took in the yard, the street and the upper half of the spindly trees.

One morning, around what seemed like the 53rd of February, I glanced out the bedroom window while getting ready for work. Something fluttered in the breeze near the top of one of the trees on the berm. It took me a minute to realize it was a plastic grocery bag, complete with red Safeway logo, clinging to a leafless branch by one handle. The way it was flapping about I was sure it would disentangle itself and blow away. Off to work I went, without giving it another thought.

The next morning I looked out the window again. Now the bag had secured itself by both handles to the branch (only a twig, really) which became a flagpole (bag pole?) as the bag billowed and fluttered with every passing breeze. As the days passed, it showed no signs of loosening its grip on the tree, although the wind was at times quite strong.

By the time March departed in its usual lion-like fashion, I was sick of snow-covered ground. Tired of landscape with no colours except brown and grey and white. (Well, there was the red ‘S’ on the bag, which I did my best to pretend was a yin. Or maybe a yang.) Most of all, I was tired of the sight of the bag, which in my mind had grown somehow to become a smirking, gloating, animate object. No, worse: it loomed like a symbol of the triumph of rampant consumerism over nature. It taunted me, it stuck out its imaginary red tongue at me. If the window hadn’t frozen shut I might even have leaned out and shrieked at it.

Now, at this point you might be inclined to dismiss me as a flake, a bleeding-heart liberal tree-hugger. So be it. But my theory is that I was suffering from an accumulation of winter misery. By this point in my life I had just had too many minus-30 degree days; too many hours spent bundling the kids into snowsuits only to have them play outside for mere minutes; had once too often lost my bedding plants to an early June frost.

I couldn’t bear the thought that soon the tentative, emerging leaves would be smothered by this plastic nuisance. On impulse, I walked down the street and around the fence and climbed up the berm, thinking that perhaps I could pull the flexible sapling branch down far enough to release the bag. Quickly I realized the futility of this: the tree was at least 20 feet tall, and much too flimsy to climb. I returned home, discouraged but not ready to give up yet.

The next morning I phoned city hall. I was transferred three times, but each person I spoke to listened politely to my tale of woe, and I was eventually connected to the public works maintenance department. Making a conscious effort not to come across as some kind of kook, I explained why I was calling. The voice on the other end assured me that the next time they had a truck in that area they would look after it. I assumed they were just humoring me, but even having made the effort lifted my winter-weary spirits a little.

When I got home that evening and went upstairs, I glanced out the window before closing the curtains. My jaw dropped; I did a double take. The bag was gone! Vamoosed! Took a powder! I was dumbfounded. There was no way it could suddenly have blown away. Not after nearly two months of being so securely fastened to the tree, through wind and blizzard and dark of night.
We’re told to be careful what we wish for and I believe this to be sage advice. You might think that trouncing my little synthetic friend would be deeply satisfying, but you would be wrong; by the next morning my euphoria had worn off.

Humph, I thought to myself. No wonder our taxes are so bloody high, if they can afford to send out a truck every time some stupid piece of plastic gets caught in a tree. I think I’ll phone city hall and complain about this extravagant misuse of expensive resources.

I hope they at least recycled the bag.

Elaine Ophus lives in Kelowna, B.C.

May 31, 2004

Forgive the plugs folks, they’re for a good cause!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rajiv Badlani @ 3:18 pm

Alex Steffan, who writes a brilliant blog at http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/002465.html noticed my blog and wrote

“I love obsessive geekery for a good cause, and I believe I have stumble upon the Ur-site, the Platonic example of the form: the Badlani blog which focuses, essentially entirely, on news about the ongoing global efforts to reduce our use of plastic bags. Yes, that’s right: it’s an anti-plastic bag blog. Pretty good one, too, full of interesting little tidbits like San Francisco’s implementation of a 17-cents-a-bag bag tax (jargon watch for the day: tax on plastic bags = “plastax”).”

But he wasn’t entirely thrilled as he adds “(The only bummer with Badlani is the authors’ relentless hawking of their own cotton bags. We get it, they sell bags. So do others, like Reusablebag.com’s Vincent Cobb. No need to remind us every post.).

I take his point. Repetitive and relentless promotion can become tedious, but I feel virtuous doing it because

Higher listings = more vistors = more fabric bags sold = less plastic bags plaguing our world.

So, folks, bear with the plugs if you will, and in fact, spread the word if you agree!

But I did need reminding of that, so thanks, Alex! Please note the absence of a plug in this blog.

May 24, 2004

Psychostrategy for your next trade show

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rajiv Badlani @ 3:16 pm

When you’re headed for your next trade show, consider reusable fabric bags as your giveaway. Visitors love receiving them because it facilitates carrying all the literature they collect.

The fact that folks will carry them around the show displaying your logo and plugging your presence is only the immediate benefit. Much after the show is over, they will still be using them (no one throws them away) and literally become a walking billboard for you.

But there’s more. People are becoming increasingly aware of the harm that plastic bags do and when your logo is seen on an eco-friendly substitute for plastic bags, your brand gets positioned in their mindspace as one of the “good guys”.

This follows from a very basic logic. People don’t want to be bombarded with your marketing message. They prefer to unravel a subtle message themselves.

If this contradicts what some marketing bozos have told you, check out the logic on yourself.

When someone is telling you a joke and you can figure the punchline even before he completes his story, that joke doesn’t break you apart and, chances are you don’t remember that story.

But when someone tells you a joke and it takes you a few seconds to figure out what was funny about it, when you start laughing, you can’t stop. And, you tend to remember that story, right?

A marketing professor once explained this phenomenon to me. When you don’t immediately “get it” it challenges and engages your mind. That brief engagement is what makes some things memorable and others get forgotten fast.

Get it?

These quiet little bags are amazingly attractive and economical. You will not believe how affordable they are so come check them out on our website http://www.badlani.com/bags/

May 17, 2004

No such thing as a free plastic or paper bag

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rajiv Badlani @ 3:15 pm

Karama Neil, a lovely lady from Little Rock, Arkansas, wrote a blog about the harm plastic bags are doing and mentioned my blog as being a good reference source. Thank you, Karama. It’s nice to be acknowledged, particularly by a person as accomplished as you.

Karama’s weblog is at http://sowhatcanido.blogspot.com/2005/04/say-no-to-plastic-grocery-bags.html. What a great concept “So what can I do?”

I disagree about paper bags, though. Cutting down a tree that takes years to grow, lugging it to sawmills and then to paper mills that consume huge amounts of electricity and water to produce a paper bag which gets used once and thrown away is also wasteful.

Using anything once and throwing it away is wasteful. Fabric bags get reused hundreds of times and make so much more sense.

But plastic and paper are cheaper, some will say. They aren’t, actually. The shops that give these to you “free” are actually paying for them and charging you an invisible premium for them. Even if they cost as little as 4 cents, over 300 uses that is $ 12.00. Our fabric bags start as low as 60 cents, and they can be reused used more than 300 times. Do the math!

Fabric bags are the real answer to saving our planet from the blight of plastic refuse. See how attractive and economical they are at http://www.badlani.com/bags/

May 10, 2004

Don’t waste! Australia shows the way

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rajiv Badlani @ 3:13 pm

Australia’s Northern Daily just published an article about how local councils have contributed huge sums of money for calico bags to be distributed free to residents.

The 13 participating councils are Armidale Dumaresq, Glen Innes, Gunnedah, Guyra, Gwydir, Inverell, Liverpool Plains, Moree, Narrabri, Tamworth, Tenterfield, Uralla and Walcha.

Vanessa Tiernan, project co-ordinator for the Northern Inland Regional Waste Group, said yesterday each of the group’s 13 constituent councils had contributed a collective $65,000 to buy 86,000 “Don’t Waste” bags.

They would all carry the same “Don’t Waste” message, but there would be one difference from council area to council area. In Tamworth, the bags would carry the message “Don’t Waste Tamworth”, whereas in the other areas, the message would be “Don’t Waste Glen Innes” or “Don’t Waste Inverell”.

Sensible. Where plastic bags are usually used just once or a few times before being discarded, the calico bags are so durable they can be used for months and even years.

Calico bags are attractive and economical as you can see at http://www.badlani.com/bags/

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 http://www.badlani.com/bags/

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 www.badlani.com/bags/shoppingbags.htm

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 (www.tomrayner.com.au) 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 http://www.icc04.org

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 www.auspost.com.au

Meanwhile, she got Tom at Rayner Associates to sponsor a website for her and her weblog http://www.aussiekidsturningthetide.com/sponsors.htm

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 http://www.badlani.com and tell me how.

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 Pets.com 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 http://badlani.com/consulting/branding.htm and at http://badlani.com/bags/branding.htm

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