Monday, April 28, 2008

My Earth Day 2008 Project

The way I have the title, you might think that this is an annual event. Well, it isn't yet. This was my first Earth Day project, inspired by my own blog post (see previous). On Earth Day (April 22nd), I bought 10 reusable grocery bags (nice black ones from my local independent food store), took them to work the next day, and left them in a pile with this note:

Free bag*
*with a catch

Giving you a free reusable bag is my Earth Day 2008 project. The real answer to “paper or plastic” at the grocery store should be “neither” as both are bad for the environment and sustainability. Non-renewable petroleum (fossil fuel) is an ingredient in plastic bags and paper bags, aside from requiring trees to be felled for their production (because recycled paper cannot be made into a strong enough bag for groceries), require more fossil fuel to be transported than do plastic bags. Reusable bags, like the ones provided here, are stronger than either plastic or paper and can typically hold more groceries.

The catch:
• If you take a bag,
you must use it in place of a plastic or paper bag to bag you purchases at a grocery or other store. You cannot only use the bag to carry stuff (like beach towels/gym clothes/lunch) around in.
  • I suggest storing it in your car/truck/minivan so that you will have it when you go to the store. Remembering to take it in with you will probably take a bit of practice but you must endeavor if you accept one of these bags
  • You may get 5 cents off your purchase for each reusable bag you use!

Please take only one for now

Things went only okay the first day. One person took a bag and told me that she had been using paper bags because she thought they were better than plastic but now she knew better (score 1 for me and the Earth). At the end of the day, I took the bags and sign away in part because I didn't want the janitor to help himself overnight (he has a reputation for helping himself to things in our break room... sodas, candy etc.) and in part because I thought my project had failed miserably. Jesse's grandfather had died late the night before, and I mention this seemingly random bit of information because it might help you understand why I was feeling a bit despondent in general (remember too that I am generally agitated about the state of the world, as alluded to in my previous post, and I haven't even mentioned my career/family agitation but it's there too). But, I also understand the nature of my coworkers (of which I currently have 14 in addition to "the boss") a bit and knew that they were just being a bit hesitant about jumping in. The next day, one person asked me what happened to the bags and said she had wanted to take one but hadn't got around to it--I gave her two (she's just an undergraduate, so I considered it "early intervention"). Then, a couple of days later, I put four of the bags out again, and three were quickly snapped up. Today, put the remaining four bags out and one has been taken. No reports yet of people actually using them, but here's hoping.


Kirsty said...

Hooray for you! Way to be part of the solution! I always remember you and Genevieve being into conservation even before it was cool ;)

Genevieve said...

That's awesome Foof. What a great idea. I should do that at work too.