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Fighting the Plastic Bag Menace
Alex Steffen, 3 Apr 05

As mentioned before, I love obsessive geekery for a good cause, and I believe I have stumble upon the Ur-site, the Platonic example of the form: the Badlani blog which focuses, essentially entirely, on news about the ongoing global efforts to reduce our use of plastic bags. Yes, that's right: it's an anti-plastic bag blog. Pretty good one, too, full of interesting little tidbits like San Francisco's implementation of a 17-cents-a-bag bag tax (jargon watch for the day: tax on plastic bags = "plastax").

Plastic bags are real problem, and seemed to have spawned a small cultish group of critcs, who do things like post pictures of bags caught in various trees, as well as some serious legislative activity:

Plastic bag litter has become such an environmental nuisance and eyesore that Ireland, Taiwan, South Africa, Australia, and Bangladesh have heavily taxed the totes or banned their use outright. Several other regions, including England and some U.S. cities, are considering similar actions.

Tony Lowes, director of Friends of the Irish Environment in County Cork, said the 15 cent (about 20 cents U.S.) tax on plastic bags introduced there in March 2002 has resulted in a 95 percent reduction in their use. "It's been an extraordinary success," he said. According to Lowes, just about everyone in Ireland carries around a reusable bag and the plastic bags that once blighted the verdant Irish countryside are now merely an occasional eyesore.

I expect to see more and more of this micro-niche advocacy blogging over couple years, and that's a great thing. Good blogs on a single issue can become real resources, as well as outreach tools. (The only bummer with Badlani is the authors' relentless hawking of their own cotton bags. We get it, they sell bags. So do others, like's Vincent Cobb. No need to remind us every post.)

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In South Africa there's an entire industry sprung up around getting plastic bags out of the country. Not only have the supermarkets started charging for them, but they also have recycling bins at their entrances to collect them. Some stores don't just recycle the bags, they also allow local craftspeople to have them -- traditional weaving techniques work surprisingly well with plastic bags, so you see many a tourist with a sunhat woven of plastic bags!

Posted by: Meri on 3 Apr 05

Thank you, Alex, for noticing my blog, and for pointing out that self-promotion can become tedious. I preach the same mantra to everyone else, and then give it the go-by in my own case seeking ever higher listings. I actually feel quite virtuous doing it, because

Higher listings = more vistors = more fabric bags sold = less plastic bags plaguing our world.

It helps to have someone point out how painful it looks. Will try and resist the temptation in future. I may not succeed, but I will sure as hell try!

Thanks Alex and my regards, Rajiv Badlani

Posted by: Rajiv Badlani on 7 Apr 05



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