Ah, B*gger It
Did you know that paper bags are worse for the environment than plastic bags? I didn't until today, which shows that Jakartass is behind the times. But then, so is Lucy Siegle
, the 'green' correspondent of the UK Observer, who writes about her collection of bags for life, bags for today, bags for tomorrow... I am in danger of turning into a bag lady. Not sartorially speaking, but because every day brings a slew of eco totes and green shopping bags. I now have more eco bags than I ever had plastic.
The development of 'eco bags' labelled 'This Is Not A Plastic Bag' came about because of a number of reports, including one for the EU
in September 2004, brought together in March 2007
following the passing of an ordinance (local law) in San Francisco effectively banning the use of plastic grocery bags at supermarkets and large pharmacies. The objective was to stop environmental degradation and reduce litter, and its solution was to legislate the replacement of traditional plastic bags with reusable bags or bags made from paper or compostable plastic
.In an effort to gauge the impact of the decision, both in terms of environmental impact and litter reduction, the Editors of The ULS Report
(Use Less Stuff) ... examined a number of credible third-party research reports, and used the findings to develop their own conclusions and recommendations
Another of the reports ULS used was commissioned by Carrefour, the French hypermarket chain partly responsible for overwhelming localised mom and pop retail businesses here in Jakarta, commissioned a Life Cycle Assessment
(LCA) report on plastic bags from Price Waterhouse back in 2004.Some Findings:1.
According to the EPA
(U.S. Environmental Protection Agency), current research demonstrates that paper in today's landfills does not degrade or break down at a substantially faster rate than plastic does. In fact, nothing completely degrades in modern landfills due to the lack of water, light, oxygen, and other important elements that are necessary for the degradation process to be completed.
2. By definition, composting and biodegradation release carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere, increasing the potential for climate change. For example, composted paper produces approximately twice the CO2 emissions produced by non-composted paper.3. Plastic bags generate 60% less greenhouse gas emissions than uncomposted paper bags, and 79% less greenhouse gas emissions than composted paper bags.4. It takes 91 percent less energy to recycle a pound of plastic than it takes to recycle a pound of paper.5. Paper sacks generate 70 percent more air, and 50 times more water pollutants, than plastic bags.
Presumably Carrefour noted these findings because they still ply you with umpteen logo-emblazoned bags which are so thin that they're generally only suitable for two uses - one to carry your groceries home and the other to put all the unnecessary packing in so that it can be dumped in Jakarta's landfills in the neighbouring townships.
Or thrown in the rivers, such as this one in Tanah Abang, Jakarta, where they exacerbate flooding before reaching the oceans where they choke sea life such as dolphins and turtles.
As Lucy Seigle notes, over 100,000 birds and a large amount of marine life die each year courtesy of plastic waste, of which plastic bags are a large contributor - not surprisingly, given that less than one per cent are recycled.
The answers are simple, even here in Jakarta.1.
Litter bugs should join 'Clean Up Brigades', as part of a legally enforceable community service.2.
Shops should charge an exorbitant amount for carrier bags, thereby encouraging shoppers to use 'long life bags', preferably made from 100 per cent recycled polyethylene
And given that those who shop the most are the richer folk, then they can probably afford to use a Voltaic Solar Backpack
or two, made from recycled plastic mineral bottles with three or more tough, light weight, waterproof solar panels and a battery pack with 3 voltage settings to store solar power.
It seems to be up to you as to how you use your stored up energy although it is not designed to charge laptops; it will however charge cell phones, sat phones, PDAs, GPSs, iPods, cameras and most other handheld electronics.
At $249 this seems to be a mere snip for those on the go. However, apart from a pocket-sized camera, I haven't got any of those electronic gadgets, so this bag is not for me.
Besides, if I had $249 to spare, I could always employ one of the locally unemployed for a month or two to carry my shopping.