Sunday, February 17, 2008

Staples Saves the World?

A few weeks ago I was standing in line at Staples, waiting to purchase some supplies for the LDOTFMOT. There were only two people in front of me but the wait seemed rather long, considering no one had more than three items.

I started looking around--candy bars, computer magazines, mechanical pencils, refrigerator of coca-cola product, rack of reusable bags with the Staples logo printed in green ink on them...huh?

This last item struck me as odd. Staples just doesn't really seems like a place that you can shop at and think you are being green, or, at the very least, it doesn't seem like a place you would think to get a reusable bag at.

I began to wonder about that bag. I wasn't super close to it so I couldn't get a detailed look, but--I wondered--was it made from recycled materials? I hoped so. But I had a feeling it wasn't.

That got me thinking. Pretty much every store that I go into now has a reusable bag available that's emblazoned with their logo and some sort of slogan about saving the earth. How many of these bags were made from recycled materials and how many were made from raw materials? How much damage has been done to the Earth by all these stores jumping on the green bandwagon? Rushing to make another item for their customers to purchase, this time (ironically) a reusable bag?

It seems silly.

I can picture the marketing people sitting in their meeting rooms saying, "Hey, people really seem to be serious about recycling and all that now. How can we make some money off of that?" "OH! I know, lets sell reusable bags in our stores!" "Great idea, Joe! Get us a quote on 2 million of those."

I think most people have bags that can be used for carrying home groceries in their possession already. I know I do. Plus, I just find it ridiculous that every retail establishment I seem to go into these days is offering these reusable shopping bags.

It seems OK for grocery stores to offer these types of bags with their logos--a customer goes there once a week, maybe more--they will use that bag. But Staples? Seriously? I go there maybe once or twice a year. If I was thinking about purchasing a reusable shopping bag I certainly am not going to get one branded with Staples' logo. What am I? Their walking billboard?

Also, are all those reusable bags really displacing that many plastic bags? I don't think they are. I think the reusable bags are just adding to the pile of stuff we already have. Stuff that will ultimately end up in a landfill.

What do you think about this? Am I being a big grump? Should I just be grateful that corporations are letting even a tiny eco-conscious idea glimmer in their stores? Even if their motivations are not pure?

Or am I right and this is just another example of business-based hypocrisy?

On the bright side, maybe these 'green' bags will be less likely to kill sea turtles.


Blogger Lady Steed said...

Perhaps I am being unkind to Staples.
It does appear that they are making efforts to save the world.

Monday, February 18, 2008 9:53:00 PM  
Blogger FoxyJ said...

I do think it is dumb that every store is using the reusable bag idea for advertising. But it's not surprising considering the nature of American retail.

But, I guess I still have some faith that they are possibly doing some good. There are a lot of plastic bags out there. I think we should just do like Ireland and pass a law taxing them at a high rate. Of course that would never fly here, but it would still be cool. I don't know what I'd wrap my dirty plastic diapers in without grocery bags :)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008 7:04:00 AM  
Blogger Celia Marie (W.) B. said...

The Staples thing seems a bit excessive, but if they are using recycled materials for their bags, and their bags are actually being used by customers, I say more power to them.

While I think reusable bags are good, I don't have any and honestly can't foresee myself using them. I would need like 10+ every time I go grocery shopping since I don't go every day. Is that what people do who use them? I don't know...I guess I'm not very "green".

Tuesday, February 19, 2008 7:47:00 AM  
Blogger FoxyJ said...

I've actually found that reusable bags reduce the clutter in my house. Instead of a giant pile of paper bags and plastic bags I only have to worry about storing a few cloth bags that hang on the wall.

My reusable bags actually hold quite a lot more than a similar bag, so I use one on most shopping trips and two on bigger trips. I think two end up being equivalent to five regular plastic bags. I rarely do giant shopping trips since I walk to the store, but I do go about twice a week.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008 10:22:00 AM  
Blogger Lady Steed said...

Foxy, I had never thought about how much space all those plastic bags I have take up. Having a few more canvas ones would take up less room, plus I wouldn't have to worry about one of the kids killing themselves with a plastic one.

Silly, I only have two reusable bags and it is never enough for my weekly shopping trip. I still end up having to get paper or plastic bags. Though Foxy is right that the canvas bags hold more--I am always amazed at how much the baggers get in there. Plus at some stores they even take something like two cents off your total for each reusable bag you bring to use.

Where you are, do you think the checkers would be completely perplexed as to what to do with your bags if you brought your own?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008 12:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Ten bags wouldn't be a problem though--nine would fit in the one, so you're only carrying one in, no problem.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008 2:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually one reuseable bag has the potential to remove from 300 to 1000 plastic bags. Non - woven polyfabric (NWPP) and Polypropylene (PP) are simple polymer structures that do not need plasticizers. The polyolefins within the material pose few risks and have the highest potential for mechanical recycling.

In comparison with polyethylene (PE) and traditional plastic shopping bags, NWPP uses fewer problematic additives, has reduced leaching potential in landfills, has reduced potential for dioxin formation during burning and has reduced technical problems and costs during recycling.

It is a smart material and very environmentally friendly.

In comparison:
* HPDE grocery bags are non-biodegradable and non-recyclable.
* They take hundreds of years to decompose.
* The manufacturing produces 1.1 kg of atmospheric pollution, contributing to acid rain and greenhouse gasses.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008 3:31:00 PM  
Blogger Celia Marie (W.) B. said...

Anon: They're recyclable here in TX apparently.

Foxy J, I too use them for diapers and the like.

Th., good point

LS, I don't think I've ever seen anyone use reusable bags here, so yes, our baggers may be a little baffled.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008 12:15:00 PM  
Blogger Lady Steed said...

anon: thanks for all the info. But tell me, when I take my huge pile of plastic bags to the plastic bag recycling bin at my grocery store, are the bags actually be recycled?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008 7:22:00 PM  

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