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Stephen Joseph Is Saving the Plastic Bag

For the Sake of the Planet, Save the Plastic Bags?!

The second I remember to quit grumbling when I get a paper bag with no handles instead of the evil that is the plastic bag, the whole eco-mantra of choosing paper could be dumped on its head. One man, Stephen Joseph, is out to save the plastic bag. He's head of the campaign called Save the Plastic Bag, and he means business.

Even though his battle ramped a little more uphill after LA became the most recent US city to can the bags on Tuesday, he's convinced he has facts on his side. On his website, the well-named SaveThePlasticBags, he lists the reasons to choose plastic over paper:

  • Roaches love paper bags — they attract them.
  • When paper bags decompose, they release methane.
  • Paper bags take up more space to transport (making more trucks on the road and more space taken in landfills if they end up there.

That's not all. To see why the global backturning on the bag may have been too hasty,


  • Paper bags require 71 percent more energy to make and recycle.
  • Plastic bags consume 6 percent of the water needed to make paper bags.

And he's got much more on his website. His main complaint? The rush to ditch the plastic hasn't been fully examined. "My research into this issue has proved to me that something funny is going on. The anti-plastic-bag campaigners are not being challenged. . . . This is not an issue that belongs in the left bucket or the right bucket. It's about truth. And I'm determined to make it register."

Now that you know the facts, let me temper them with this: Joseph is also the attorney representing plastic bag companies. What's a shopper to think? Maybe the devil doesn't wear plastic after all?


Join The Conversation
Bettyjane Bettyjane 8 years
Thinking about it more :( probably won't work :(. Costco is a warehouse after all they have a lot more room than regular stores to keep all those boxes around. Oh well! But yeah brainstorming! Again, I don't know which one actually causes more damage (paper or plastic), but when volunteering for beach cleanup I see a lot more plastic litter than paper. So, just going by what I know from experience. It is just sad :( Hope sometime soon there is a solution that people are happy with and is good for the environment :)
lilkimbo lilkimbo 8 years
Good idea with the boxes, BettyJane. I think GFS does that, too.
Bettyjane Bettyjane 8 years
Cordata, you are right I am for the tax :). I just feel that the tax is fair. Since at the moment there are no alternatives to paper or plastic it seems like the right choice for now. You know what? I just thought of something. At Costco they don't have bags, they have the boxes that things were shipped in, why can't we do that in regular stores? I don't know the inner workings of the supermarkets but don't they just throw these boxes away? It is another way to recycle what is already being used right? They could give the boxes to customers without a tax or charge? Maybe it isn't a realistic idea but just a thought. We need to think of alternatives because not everyone can buy cloth bags but we have to get off these plastic and paper bags :(
Community-Manager Community-Manager 8 years
Hey everyone, Please remember we do not allow any attacks on other members. If there is an attack on the site, please be sure to report and it will be handled by the TeamSugar staff! Thanks team
cordata cordata 8 years
This is to answer someone way up thread but you can actually ask for plastic bags at Trader Joe's. I do when I forgot to bring a cloth one, since I find them easier to reuse and I've heard about paper bags taking more energy to produce than plastic ones before. Sorry if I misunderstood, but I think Bettyjane was saying that she's for the tax.
Bettyjane Bettyjane 8 years
Hunter, I wasn't claiming that the beach is only on the west cost. I am however noting that I do live here in California by the beach and that I see how badly people are littering and that a lot of the litter happens to be plastic bags. I don't think your comment implying that I think the beach is only on the west coast was very nice :). Just because I don't agree with you about the tax does not mean you have to be rude to me. :)
MartiniLush MartiniLush 8 years
Hunter, I agree that usually I wouldn't want the gov't charging me for this either. I think that needs to be taken on a location by location basis. Here in the pacific northwest, our economy (and by extention the viability of our communities) is tied to many oceanic industries that depend on a healthy ocean ecosystem. I think in this particular instance, it is ok for the government to impose the tax to try to limit the amount of people-generated trash that ends up in the Puget sound and by extention out to the coast. But, I don't think that it would always be fair to impose such a tax and that each case needs to be looked at on an individual location basis. In the same vein, I really think this is a total cop-out by the government - instead of implementing something hard that might more directly affect big polluters of our oceans, they took the easy, look-good option, which, as usual, will hit those less fortunate the hardest!
Lady-Boleyn Lady-Boleyn 8 years
Again, my point is not the plastic bags, but that the government is taxing you on something that should be individual choice. Glad to hear the beach is only on the west coast.
Bettyjane Bettyjane 8 years
Hunter, I don't mind it because it is for the better. If you live in California and by the beach like we do, you see exactly how many plastic bags are going into the ocean and are being littered and its just gross. I don't care about the tax because I won't be taxed :) I will be using the cloth bags.
Lady-Boleyn Lady-Boleyn 8 years
Betty, my issue is not whether or not you want to use the plastic bag but that the government is forcing you to by taxing you on it.
Bettyjane Bettyjane 8 years
Another tip, as soon as my fiance and I are done putting the groceries away he goes and immediately puts them back into the trunk so next time we go we have them. It was hard to get used to at first but like anything else it becomes a routine. We waited to buy the cloth bags until we had out biggest order of groceries (2 carts full) and we bought enough bags to fit it all (because we knew we would never buy more than that!). It had worked out quite well and is now getting much easier. We live in Pacific Palisades which is in Los Angeles and there have been talks for a while now about the plastic bag ban so we thought we would get started early.
Bettyjane Bettyjane 8 years
"Joseph is also the attorney representing plastic bag companies." pretty much marks him with the obvious bias.
Bettyjane Bettyjane 8 years
I think this is a tad silly, "save the plastic bag"? We should all just be using reusable bags. Both paper and plastic bags have their environmental drawbacks. In my opinion we shouldn't be using either, but "save the plastic bag"? No thanks. I know a lot of supermarkets have kind of flimsy reusable bags but Trader Joe's has some really great ones. They have heft cloth ones that can hold quite a bit and insulated bags for all your cold buys. We bought about 20 bags total so we never have to use the bags in the store. Also, there are many "designer" reusable bags now being sold since it became hip to be green. Some are very cute but I think overpriced, go with the Trader Joe's ones.
Jude-C Jude-C 8 years
I remember reading about the "island of garbage" thing. It's disgusting that this could even occur.
raciccarone raciccarone 8 years
I heard Midway Island was almost completely surrounded by garbage now. The tide brings it both from America and Asia. It sounded absolutely awful.
geebers geebers 8 years
Funny over here we get discounts for bringing our own bags most places. I use the plastic bags for trash and since I started using cloth bags I just recently RAN out of plastic bags!! This has NEVER happened to me and kinda funny that now I have to go and shop and get plastic bags for my trash.
MartiniLush MartiniLush 8 years
Forgot to try to post the NPR link...let's see if just ONE will go through....
MartiniLush MartiniLush 8 years
GRRR I got flagged for the links I just posted, Hypno! I thought the same as you when I found out about it through a co-worker. I did a search and I found several articles published in the San Francisco Chronicle in 2007, an actual video on the Frankly Green website and something on NPR and a discussion about it on How Things Work....
MartiniLush MartiniLush 8 years
Hey, Hypno - I know what you mean, this was the first I had heard of it, too! I got the info from a co-worker. I did a quick search to see what I could find in other media sources and it looks like the San Francisco Chronicle ran stories on this in 2007 : and And here is a video from Frankly Green: And here is a discussion on How Stuff Works:
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 8 years
Thank you for the link Martini not to put a pillow over the alarm but it just strikes me as profoundly odd that that heap out in the ocean has not been a mainstream topic. I stay more observant than most I'd say of environmental issues and that article is the first I've seen or heard of such an extraordinary mass of garbage out in the sea.
amybdk amybdk 8 years
Wow, MartiniLush -- I think you should forward that link to Stephen Joseph. It was a disturbing read!
amybdk amybdk 8 years
To clarify my "marketing standpoint" comment: If indeed word-of-mouth marketing is one of the best, most reliable forms of marketing available (which I've been taught in every one of my jobs since I began working), hopefully Festival Foods will be losing some customers.
MartiniLush MartiniLush 8 years
here's the link for the whole article:
MartiniLush MartiniLush 8 years
Has anyone else heard about this mass of plastic floating in the pacific ocean?? From an article in The Independent: "A "plastic soup" of waste floating in the Pacific Ocean is growing at an alarming rate and now covers an area twice the size of the continental United States, scientists have said. The vast expanse of debris – in effect the world's largest rubbish dump – is held in place by swirling underwater currents. This drifting "soup" stretches from about 500 nautical miles off the Californian coast, across the northern Pacific, past Hawaii and almost as far as Japan." !!!!!!!!
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