Last Friday, as my 15-year-old and 13-year-old daughters and I made our celebratory end-of-schoolyear treck to Barnes and Noble for fancy coffee and 1 book of their choice (hopefully to encourage summer reading), we went to Home Depot to buy a few items for summer house projects. As usual, the cashier started putting the items into a plastic bag and, as usual, I said we didn’t need a plastic bag. This started a conversation that lasted the rest of the car ride between my daughters and I about environmental sustainability and an article I had just read in the Star Tribune that morning about Canada banning single-use plastics. I don’t remember whose thought it was, but we had a collective idea that, rather than relying on individuals to decrease consumption, behavior would be more likely to change if the situation changed, and if customers had to “opt in” for plastic, rather than always “opt out.” This, after all, is just good Social Psychology. I thought of Dan Ariely’s popular TED talk in which he discusses how organ donation is greatly impacted by whether individuals have to opt in or opt out, something that varies widely by country. Anyway, I suggested we write our little idea up to the Star Tribune in the form of a letter to the editor, and they published our letter this morning! Not only am I pleased to raise this issue to readers’ consciousness just a bit, but I’m very excited to present the physical newspaper to my daughters this morning, to have them see their names in print, and hopefully inspire a little more civic engagement in their lives.
Yes, Andy- More paper bags need to be used or as I try to do
Take the receipt , the item and put them in my large
Pocket pants or sweater. Always paper when I can.
Because of your article- I am going to stash a bunch
Of paper bags in my car!
Dr. Pearson! See Kelly’s response below. Hope to catch up soon.
Way to go Tix Family!!!
We do the same when it comes to bags & opt-out when small amount of items can be easily carried out of the store.
Interestingly enough I saw a story done by KARE-11, I think last week, that gave good support to the fact that paper bags use MORE resources than plastic. Environmentally, they are eventually compostable, but they use a lot of natural resources and time to make, where single-use plastic is very cheaply & quickly made.
KARE-11 sources advice: use canvas or reusable, woven plastic bags & if you use single-use plastic return them to grocery stores for recycling. Amazingly, there are many people who do not know that the single-use plastic bag can not go in the recycling bin that is put out at curbside to be picked up. A spokesperson from a recycling center said these bags clog up their machines which costs time & money as then the machines have to be shut down for repair.
Wonderful information. Thanks Kelly!