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Please Reuse or Recycle this Bag

The other day my mom went shopping, and came home carrying her purchases in a plastic bag (I haven't gotten her on the reusable bandwagon yet). I didn't pay much attention to it, until I saw what it had printed on the side.


At first, I thought it was a good thing. I mean, if someone is going to use a plastic bag, at least that bag is encouraging them not to just throw it in the garbage. In pretty big print too! But...the more I thought about it, that just didn't feel right. Then I realized why: Keep America Beautiful. 

I'd heard about the organisation before, and how it was really a front by corporations who make commonly littered items to keep the blame off themselves (more information). While I don't think Keep America Beautiful has anything to do with this bag in particular, their ploy seems to repeat itself. By printing this on their plastic bags, the store takes responsibility for what happens to this bag off themselves. If one of their bags is ever found in the stomach of a dead sea animal, it was clearly the consumer's fault, not theirs! They have it printed on their bag! But does this bit of ink actually make any difference? Of course not.

Instead of doing anything meaningful, such as charging a little per plastic bag in order to encourage their customers to bring their own reusable ones, they just print a note under their logo and call it a day. 

I don't want to be too critical of this becuase it very well could be good intentioned, and I support major companies trying to be environmentally friendly. However, superficial environmentalism does no good. 

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Opt Out

The other day, I went to Subway and saw this:



A fast food chain actively trying to reduce their waste? AND encouraging people to use less plastic bags? Heck yes!  However, I'm always sceptical of brands trying to 'greenwash' products. Making the salad bowls and napkins out of recycled materials is a great place to start, but if Subway really wants to make a difference, there's an important step they need to take. While it's great they have a poster saying to go bagless, there's a much easier way to get people to do so: don't hand them one.

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