Just Bag It

It’s interesting to watch how different municipalities across North America are making efforts to reduce their use of plastic shopping bags and encourage – or force – the use of reuseable bags. Ireland led the way in 2002 by charging about 22 cents per grocery bag and putting the millions raised into recycling programs. In the U.S., San Francisco became the first city in North America, last March, to ban plastic bags in grocery stores and large pharmacies. Leaf Rapids, a small town in northern Manitoba, became the first municipality in Canada to ban plastic shopping bags. Many other municipalities are charging a small amount per plastic bag, or giving cash or air miles incentives for the use of reuseable bags.

On Monday (November 23, 2009) the provincial government of Ontario announced a voluntary program to urge Ontarians to cut in half the number of plastic shopping bags they use over the next five years, from 4 bags per person per week (a total of 7 million per day) to 2 bags per person per week.

At EcoSmart we’ve noticed another kind of bag on the market. Organic cotton produce bags, like the ones from  Blue Lotus, claim to keep your vegetables fresher, longer. Tossing greens-gone-brown sure feels bad, especially when approximately 20% of our household food ends up in the garbage. A neat idea this holiday season could be to just bag it altogether and use them as great gift wrapping bags.

Trash Talk at the Office

Trash talk has gotten a bad name…but what if it was the socially responsible thing to do? What if the office trash talk focused on, well, trash? That’s just what happened in schools and businesses and homes across Canada during Waste Reduction Week, from Oct. 19 to 25. This year’s theme, Too Good to Waste, reminded us to reflect upon our attitudes, habits, and choices about consumption.

At EcoSmart Products, we think trash talk is a beautiful thing. So we propose a challenge for your workplace, whether in the corporate world or in the classroom, to have fun and reflect upon our patterns of waste. If your office or school uses disposable white board markers, try running a competition to see who can guess the most accurate total number of markers disposed per month. Students can get involved too!

Alternatively, if your workplace already uses a refillable marker, such as AusPen, it might be satisfying to guesstimate the total number of disposable markers NOT used, total weight of toxic waste NOT sent to a landfill.

Hopefully workplace and school challenges such as this are carried out in an attitude of fun and learning, knowing that trash talk is ok afterall. Drop us a line to tell us how it went.

Campus Sustainability Day

The 7th annual Campus Sustainability Day took place on October 21st. It’s been great watching the year-over-year increase in the number of schools across North America that acknowledge the day and the number who are putting together impressive special events on their campuses.

This year, those events ranged from Michigan State University’s week-long celebration of sustainability, including an “eco”-focused scavenger hunt and eco-tours of the campus, to Willamette University (in Oregon) giving out mini-grants for campus sustainability projects (such as a community garden and extra bike racks on campus), to Iowa State University offering free bike tune-ups.

We’re pleased to say that our AusPen refillable dry erase markers are being used on many of the campuses of schools who participated in the Sustainability Day. We look forward to next year and hope we see another significant increase in the number who celebrate the day with special projects and events.

Congrats to all those who participated.

Green Festival – San Francisco

We are happy to be attending the San Francisco Green Festival again this year. We had a great time at this event last November, meeting up with many current users of our AusPen eco-friendly dry erase markers, while also introducing the markers to thousands of eco-minded individuals.

Please stop by the AusPen marker booth and say hi if you’re going to be at the Green Festival (November 13, 14, 15).

It is a very well put together event so if you are in the Bay Area we encourage you to schedule it into your calendar.