Posts Tagged ‘New York Times’

NY Times bag story

Friday, November 14th, 2008

November 14, 2008, 7:42 am
Cheap Green: Reusing Plastic Bags
By Kate Galbraith

Web users are sharing a variety of ways to reuse plastic bags. This project appears on Flickr. Being rather old-fashioned (as well as working for The New York Times), I subscribe to the newspaper — the actual printed copy. It gets plunked down on my doorstep every morning — always in a plastic bag, just in case it rains.

So despite my efforts to take a cloth bag to the grocery store, plastic newspaper bags are piling up under my kitchen sink. They can be recycled: most Whole Foods stores around the country have a plastic-bag deposit bin, for example, and also provides localized tips.

But there are plenty of other uses, too. Many websites have sprung up with suggestions, some with exotic notions such as cutting bags into strips and weaving them into dresses or hats. Personally I use newspaper bags to store food in my refrigerator — opened packages of cheese, for example, or a bundle of scones.

I haven’t perished yet. If I had a dog, I would use plastic bags for the obvious.

The better news is that even newspaper bags are getting greener. I emailed with a New York Times spokeswoman, Abbe Serphos, about the bags. She told me:
Our current plastic bags are produced using a high percentage of recycled material and the bags can be recycled.

By early 2009, The Times should be fully converted to utilizing a new bio-degradable polybag for newspaper deliveries around the country. The bag is produced by GP Plastics and they call it their PolyGreen bag. The bag begins to degrade in the open environment within a few months and within two to three years when in a landfill.

With this new technology an additive is mixed with the plastic that causes the finished product to degrade over time, as it is exposed to oxygen in the open environment or in a landfill. In addition to being “oxo-biodegradable” the bag can be recycled along with any other plastic bags. The Times will be the first national newspaper to commit to using this environmentally friendly bag. While this new bag is more expensive, we believe it is an important change to make.

Ultimately, of course, it would be good to get away from plastic bags. Manufacturing them consumes plenty of energy — 40 percent more than paper bags although 40 percent less than paper bags, according to a recent article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which lays out the age-old paper versus plastic debate.

And in grocery stores in New York, the cheapest plastic bags may soon be none at all: Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants to slap a 6 cent per tax on plastic bags, following in the tradition of cities in Europe.