retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Good piece in the Wall Street Journal that challenges the current view that plastic grocery bags ought to be banned completely because they are an environmental blight on the planet.

“Nothing is simple in the push to protect the planet,” the Journal writes. “There is growing evidence that the production, use and disposal of plastic bags put less burden on natural resources than paper bags. Meanwhile, a knock against plastic bags – that they can't be conveniently recycled -- is becoming less persuasive as more cities start accepting plastic bags in curbside recycling programs.”

The Journal goes on to note that “what most studies agree is most beneficial to the environment … is for shoppers to bring their own reusable bags to the grocery store. A reusable bag is better for the environment regardless of what it is made from, as long as it is used at least four times, according to a 2004 study by the French retailer Carrefour.”

But at the very least, the Journal illustrates that this is not a simple debate, and that “paper or plastic” is a question without easy answers.

KC's View:
Look, I don't think there’s any question that reusable bags are best for the environment because less trash is less trash. That isn’t hard to process. (I keep getting emails from people who ask about germs and bacteria carried in reusable bags, and I keep wondering if these people don't have washing machines. A good cotton canvas bag – and the MorningNewsBeat bags made by EcoBags, a site sponsor that I have no problem plugging – can be used many, many times and washed whenever it gets dirty.)

I also think that without the environmental awareness created by this debate, there would not be so many efforts being made to improve recycling efforts.

Look, this is a healthy debate. Better to have it than not. And we’re making progress…slow and steady.

And if you are a retailer, you really ought to consider selling bags like the MorningNewsBeat canvas bags. They’re terrific. (Yes, that was another plug.)