Why Plastic Bags are Gone from San Francisco Supermarkets

plastic-bag-in-tree.jpgI guess I haven’t been grocery shopping in a while. When I walked into my local Safeway a few days ago, I looked around and saw Supermarket Plastic Ban Goes Into Effect in San Francisco“>nothing but brown paper bags (and the few canvas and reusable plastic bags that a small number of shoppers had brought with them).
There are several reasons why plastic bags are bad for the environment. Plastic bags litter the streets and choke marine life. They are not reusable. They are not recyclable. And frankly, they’re not even great for getting the groceries home. (I’ve had my fair share of mishaps when a sharp edge of some random package ripping the bag and causing my canned green beans to go rolling down a hill and into the abyss.) With three dogs, I can’t even count of plastic grocery bags to scoop the poop… I’ve been faced more than once with the hand straight through the bag trick (luckily, it’s always happened to me BEFORE scooping poop and NOT during!!!) In a nutshell, plastic bags were horrible all around…. so SF Supervisors got rid of them.
So, with the ban on plastic bags, stores were given the option of using paper bags or biodegradable startch based plastic bags.
According to PlasticNews.com, “Among the superior attributes of the biodegradable bags, which are typically made of starches from potatoes and corn:
— They’re stronger. “The days of double-bagging your loaf of bread would be over,” said Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, author of the compostable bag ordinance.
— They can go straight into the green recycling bin. They would be clearly marked as biodegradable.
— They’re versatile. Today, far too much food waste heads to the landfill because of what some recycling advocates call the “ick factor.” With a biodegradable bag, you could scoop the food scraps into the bag, then, quickly and neatly, plunk it all into the green bin.
— They’re environmentally friendly. Plastic bags are a huge nuisance: they pose a threat to marine life, they gum up recycling machines and they consume landfill space. ”
And they’re right. But unfortunately, the reality is that that plastic bags cost about a penny each, paper bags cost about five cents, but compostable plastic bags made of starch cost 10 cents each, and supermarkets aren’t buying into it. And so supermarkets have opted to ditch plastic all together rather than cough up some extra dough for the compostable plastic bags.
While this does lead to less litter, and save marine animals, it does result in a greater use of paper bags – which leads to cutting down more trees. 🙁
So how can you help? Bring your own reusable canvas or reusable plastic bags to the grocery store with you. You can usually buy reusable plastic bags for about a dollar at your local grocery store, or you can spend about $3 for a canvas bag at the stores that do stock them… OR, you can contact me! I’ve puchased a few hundred canvas grocery bags and am giving them away to friends, family and clients. If you’d like one for yourself, drop me a line and ask for one and I’ll find a way to get it to you. Of course, I don’t have a limitless supply – so hurry if you want one!

I apologize, but I am no longer shipping the bags outside of the San Francisco Bay Area.  (I actually no longer ship the bags – I either drop them off locally, or leave them at my office for people to pick up.)

The bags are to help people “go green” but the amount of energy it takes to ship something as small as a canvas bag across the country is very wasteful, as is the packaging required to ship it.

I hope you understand and I apologize for any inconvenience.