By Jennifer Lee
New York, NY (April 1, 2008)- Like smoking and trans fats, plastic bags are becoming the target of a continued campaign of public disdain. The anti-plastic bag movement- which has drawn the most momentum abroad in countries like Ireland and Bangladesh- is becoming more and more local.
New York’s City Council has discussed mandatory recycling and there have even been faint rumblings of a plastic bag tax. An outright ban, however, like the one in San Francisco, hasn’t gathered much momentum in New York.
Now Whole Foods, which has pledged to eliminate plastic bags in all 270 stores by Earth Day, is selling a limited-edition GreeNYC cotton bag in 16 of its New York metropolitan region stores during the month of April at $11.99 a pop. It is the first of a series of cotton bags that will be introduced over each of the next several months by GreeNYC, the PlaNYC environmental campaign which features that lopsided 1970s-era bird (what kind of bird is it again?).
Plastic bags – while convenient and inexpensive (about the quarter the cost of a paper bag) – tend to hang around and end up in the remote crevices in the environment. Plastic bags also use petroleum in their production, which makes them doubly non-environmental. (The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that plastic bags used in the United States each year require about 12 million barrels of oil to produce.)
But the bags are doubly environmental. Not only do they reduce the demand for plastic bags, for each bag sold, but Whole Foods Market will also donate $1 to MillionTreesNYC, a collaboration between the Department of Parks and Recreation and the New York Restoration Project, an initiative to plant and care for one million new trees across the five boroughs over the next decade.
Likewise, Whole Foods’ other new reusable bag, the FEED 100 bag designed by Lauren Bush (niece of President George W. Bush), will provide money to pay for 100 nutritious school meals for hungry children through the United Nations World Food Program (hence the FEED 100 name). The bag, which retails for $29.99, will be rolled out nationwide on May 1.
As for the GreeNYC bag, there is a certain crunchy-granola earnestness to its design, which is literally green (a green apple morphed with the symbol for infinity, the letters “NYC,” and the text: “Help Make NYC Greener”). So the Magritte irony of Anya Hindmarch, it has not. We’re probably not going to see any “I Am Not a Plastic Bag”-type counterfeits in Chinatown or on eBay.
New York Restoration Project
New York Times