‘Paper, plastic or reusable?’ Why variety in brands and bags matters
By David Asselin, [email protected]
The way that people do their grocery shopping in Austin, Portland and Seattle has changed, by government decree. In all three cities, city councils have enacted bans on plastic bags. With this trend in the national spotlight, business owners on the front lines of this change may be asking: What does this mean for my business? Might similar legislation be headed my way?
As any business owner knows, the consumer is indispensible to success. Providing for the needs and preferences of customers—and recognizing the diversity of these preferences—builds loyalty.
And so, when entering the produce section of a grocery store, I have the option of organic fruits and vegetables. Walk over to the personal care section and there’s not one type of toothpaste; there are dozens to choose from. Catering to the varied preferences of customers is at the core of American business—it’s part of our culture.
Grocery bags are no different. Realizing this, most stores have long provided shoppers with the choice of paper or plastic bags. In recent years, reusable bags, often branded with a store logo, have become increasingly common, giving shoppers a third choice at the checkout counter. Whether the shopper prefers to bring his own bags from home or reuse his plastic retail bags to pick up pet waste, he can do just that.
Simply put, plastic bags are available because shoppers continue to find them useful. When government intervenes to take away an affordable item that many choose to use, something is amiss.
Specifically, several considerations are being overlooked:
The value of plastic: Plastic bags were adopted in the 1970’s and, since then, have been recognized for their cost and energy savings, cleanliness, reliability (being able to carry 25 pounds) and recyclability. Furthermore, shoppers like them because they serve various secondary functions—as trash-bin liners, pet-waste disposal or lunch bags.
Bans don’t reduce litter. In justifying their actions, city council members have alleged that plastic bags are a large portion of litter. While no amount of litter is acceptable, the reality is that plastic bags are a minuscule portion of the waste stream—a fraction of 1%. Even if a city manages to remove all plastic bags from use (and, given the exemptions generally granted to produce bags, dry cleaning bags, etc. that’s all but impossible), what about the more than 99% of the litter that remains? The larger drivers of litter—including soda cans, chip bags and cigarette butts will remain. Education, not legislation, changes habits.
Recycling is a better solution. The recycling bins in front of America’s grocery stores are links in America’s recycling chain. It’s a system that joins all partners—from factory to shopper to store – in a circle of sustainability that turns used plastic bags into playground equipment, benches and even new plastic bags.
In the end, plastic bag bans benefit no one except the vote-seeking council member—not the shopper who involuntarily sacrifices a useful item, not the store that prides itself on facilitating consumer choice and not the environment. The public demand to go green is a powerful one, but it requires neither a huge shift in behavior nor drastic legislation. It merely demands a recommitment to a lifestyle defined by the mantra: reduce, reuse, recycle. I hope you can support us in this goal as we strive for thoughtful policies, which will actually improve our environment.
Dave Asselin is executive director of the American Progressive Bag Alliance. It was founded in 2005 to represent the United States’ plastic bag manufacturing and recycling sector, employing 30,800 workers in 349 communities across the nation. APBA promotes the responsible use, reuse, recycling and disposal of plastic bags and advocates for American-made plastic products as the best environmental choice at check out—for both retailers and consumers. He can be reached at [email protected].
School supply company sees a ghost
School supplies manufacturer It’s Academic announced a new partnership the manufacturer of a vanishing grid line technology.
It’s Academic said it would use the patented Ghostline grid line innovation on its dry erase products such as Dry Erase Notes. Owned by Second Sight Enterprises, the Ghostline technology employs faint grid lines that help keep writing and design elements neat and organized, but seem to disappear at a distance, eliminating the need for measuring and drawing lines before beginning a project. Commonly available on posterboards and notepads, this is the first time that Ghostline will be available on dry erase products, according to It’s Academic.
"Our dry erase boards and are increasingly used in classroom settings, and grid lines help kids with letter formation, setting up math problems, creating tables – lots of things." said Bruce Shapiro, president and founder of It’s Academic. "With the Ghostline lines, a single board can be used for both drawing and grid activities."
"We’re very excited that Ghostline will now be available on dry erase boards," said Barbara Russell Pitts, VP Second Sight Enterprises and co-inventor of the Ghostline patent. "This opens the door for many applications, both in the workplace and in education."
It’s Academic will integrate the Ghostline technology into several of its product lines. It’s Academic products are available at major retailers including Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Meijer, Office Max, Staples, CVS, Fred Meyer, Kroger, HEB and RiteAid.
Founded in 1995, the company manufactures and distributes high-function, high-tech school and home office products under the It’s Academic and Lockermate brands.
Clorox targets Hispanic market with new cleaning line
OAKLAND, Calif. — Clorox has launched a new line of products designed to appeal to Hispanic scent preferences and unique approach to cleaning. The Clorox Fraganzia line of products is available now at major national retailers and consists of three products designed to imbue the Hispanic home with welcoming, clean, fresh scents. They are: a multi-purpose dilutable cleaner, toilet bowl rim hanger, and aerosol air freshener.
Through its research, Clorox determined Hispanics often approach cleaning in a three-stage process: cleaning, disinfecting and aromatizing. With the Clorox Fraganzia launch, Clorox effectively addresses the aromatizing stage in the process, complementing its portfolio of cleaning and disinfection solutions (which include its iconic bleach and disposable wipes, among other products) and offering its Hispanic customers a full-range solution with which to address all three stages of the process.
David Cardona, Clorox multi-cultural team leader, explained, "We identified this valuable opportunity based on the unique needs and lifestyle of our Hispanic customers. By introducing the Clorox Fraganzia line, Clorox now offers its Hispanic customers a turn-key portfolio of cleaning, disinfecting and aromatizing products that are attractively priced and were created specifically to appeal to the way they clean. We also addressed an important need by ensuring scent continuity in our Clorox Fraganzia aromatizing products, so that across floors, bathrooms and rooms our customers can enjoy the same beautiful, welcoming scent throughout their homes."
The Clorox Fraganzia line was developed incorporating proprietary and syndicated research that helped Clorox identify the scents that most appeal to Hispanics. The variety of scents include: Lavender with Eucalyptus and Mint, Spring, and Forest Dew for the multi-purpose dilutable cleaner and air freshener; and, Lavender with Eucalyptus and Mint as well as Pine Woods and Fresh Squeezed Lemon for the aromatic toilet bowl rim hanger.
The launch is being supported by an extensive, multi-media advertising effort that includes: U.S. Hispanic network and cable television advertising spots, U.S. Hispanic radio spots, online digital banners, and a Facebook presence on www.Facebook.com/CloroxLatino, where consumers will have the opportunity to interact with and learn more about the Clorox Fraganzia line of products. In addition, the launch will receive aggressive point-of-sale support that will include dedicated displays and instant redeemable coupons.