The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

September 24, 2007

Temescal Tabling and Plastic Pick Up

Yesterday morning, Terry from Green Sangha joined me at the Temescal Farmer’s Market to educate the public about plastic. This time, the information was supplemented by a beautiful display, courtesy of the Marin Chapter of Green Sangha. Please click the top image to see the details of the display. We only had it for this weekend, and now it will have to go back to Marin where it normally lives.

We also handed out resusable cloth produce bags, asking a $2 donation to reimburse Green Sangha’s cost for purchasing the bags. These bags are great for produce because they are thin and lightweight and when dampened, will keep produce fresh in the refrigerator. It was interesting to see how many people who initially refused the bags, saying that they had their own totes, changed their minds when we explained that the totes are great but we’re concerned about the plastic produce bags that fill up the totes.
It was nice to see that some people brought their used plastic bags back to the market to fill up again. Maybe we should have a container of used plastic grocery bags to give out for people who don’t want the cloth bags. That’s what they do at the Berkeley Farmer’s Market. I think some folks don’t want to pay for bags, but they also feel guilty about taking them for free. At least if we could encourage them to take used grocery bags, we could prevent new plastic bags from being wasted. I’ll bring up this idea with the group and see what they think.

If you live in the Bay Area and would like Green Sangha to bring their traveling display and powerpoint presentation to your organization or business, contact them and see if something can be arranged. Here is a link to Green Sangha’s materials related to plastic:

Here’s a guy who went to town on the weekend pick up plastic challenge. Scott from Least Footprint sent me the following e-mail and photo:

OK, I took your weekend challenge and have attached a picture. The picture shows as much as I gathered in just half an hour. I did this sort of as an experiment to measure exactly how much plastic trash is in just one large block right in my neighborhood. It is a lot…. I have been picking stuff up one at a time… and then dumping it one at a time at the next available receptacle or bringing it home to recycle depending on the ick factor but this is the first time I actually went out with a bag to fill and measured how much there is to pick up. I know, I’m the PUP guy but I’ve been in the middle of moving and taking on tons of other projects as well.

Anyhow, I think you may have gotten me kick started on this. If I can pick up that much plastic in half an hour, imagine how much I could pick up in a week with very little expenditure of time. Although I think I may get one of those claw things they use. It’s a challenge. I’ll keep you informed how it goes. Pushing and prodding always welcome.

And finally, today’s update on the Trash Challenge.

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16 years ago

Beth, your blog has REALLY gotten me noticing the plastic in my life…and it kinda repulses me. I have purchased a set of canning jars for food storage, and I’m working on more lifestyle changes.

Martin, I live in the midwest, and while it’s cool to bring your own bags to Trader Joe’s, Wild Oats and Aldi’s, when I bring my bags to a big box store they do look at me like I have two heads. It also screws them up because they all have those bag carousels now, which makes it awkward to fill any other sort of bag. But they deal.

As for if I don’t need a bag-I just say, “I don’t need a bag for that.”

16 years ago

Hi Beth! I want to let yo u know I really appreciate your efforts to reduce plastic use! Your farm market adventure sounds like a really good idea, too! Do you know about morsbags? I make them and take them to my local farm market and give them to vendors to use in place of plastic bags. Of course, I can’t keep up with the demand, but it has been fun, and encouraging to see people actually bringing them back and re-using them! Peace, Lorena

Radical Garbage Man
16 years ago

I’m rather encouraged by the gas station convenience store near my house. They don’t generally offer bags if you’ve only got a couple of items and if you’ve got more, they specifically ask “do you need a bag?”

I don’t know if this is nascent corporate environmentalism, nickel and diem cost-cutting or laziness on the part of the staff, but I appreciate it nonetheless!

Beth Terry
16 years ago

Hi Martin. Does it help to be proactive by putting your own bag on the counter and saying right away, “Thanks. I’ll use my own bag. I don’t need a new one?”

Of course, if you forgot to bring your own bag, you might get funny looks when you carry stuff out in your hands. But what are a few funny looks? Maybe if you do it enough times, they’ll start to get it.

Rejin L
16 years ago

Martin, I think we have to learn to live with the look. In my neighborhood I may still be the only no-bagger, but the supermarket clerks are getting used to me. This weekend, though, I was challenged for the first time, by clerks at two clothing stores. One even escorted me to the door to explain to Security that she tried to give me a bag, but I refused. Very helpful of her.
We just have to be firm and hope that everyone catches on before too long. Or better yet, try to jump start a ban in our cities or communities. I love the way Beth is working to spread the word, both at the Farmer’s Market and online.

16 years ago

You live in a place where retailers are unlikely to be surprised by lifestyle choices like not wanting a plastic bag. I would be interested to hear stories from people like me who get looked at as if they have two heads.

What is an expedient expression that you can use in order to not get a plastic bag and also not get a socially awkward moment?