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IKEA – NO More Free Bags (REALLY!)

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

ONE YEAR in to IKEA’s program to reduce bag use at stores by 50%, the results are in – instead of cutting use in half, 92% of customers chose reusable bags over disposable plastic. Last year, IKEA motivated both reluctant and forgetful consumers by both offering a truly affordable reusable bag at checkout (.59) and charging 5 cents for use of traditional plastic bag. All proceeds went to American Forests, to help plant trees to restore forests and reduce CO2 emissions. As of October, 2008, IKEA has upped their call to action – only reusable bags will be available at their stores, eliminating all paper and plastic options.”No More Free Bags (REALLY!)”

Most people agree with the idea, though plastic bags are a long way from disappearing altogether. The disappointed among us are people use retail-produced bags at home for trash and cat litter. The problem? Those plastic bags take up to 1000 years to biodegrade – once again, we reach a crossroads of harsh reality of the conveniences we’ve become accustomed to. Biodegradable trash bags are available – we just have to get used to the higher cost. In my experience, what felt like sticker shock quickly subsided when I realized that with less consumption and more recycling, I’m sending only 1 trash bag to the curb per month. Really.

NY Times recently reported that, “Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced this month that he would push for a 6-cent fee on each plastic bag, both to raise as much as $16million/year for the city and to steer New Yorkers toward greener practices.” With effortful ease, times are changing. Be Here Now and we can reap the rewards to come.

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