NYTimes on reusable lunch bags
There's a nice story in the Times this weekend about a growing trend of schools requesting that parents pack school lunches in reusable containers instead of disposible plastic. Two things worth noting: one, while the environmental benefit is obviously part of the effort, another motivating factor is the need for schools to reduce waste. Less trash = less expense and, ultimately, more money for teaching. Another motivator in here is the power of social pressure or, to be blunt, shame. Shame has a bad rep but it can also be channeled into social good.
We sell reusable lunch bags here at the store. And we offer only reusable bags for customers who make purchases, but I'm not convinced that the reusable bags themselves offer a net gain for the environment -- that depends too much on how many times the bags are used in place of disposables. They are (at least in the case of the ones we carry) more environmentally taxing that thin disposables, so if they are only used once or twice it's a loss.
The real benefit comes from the slow-burn of changing mindsets, of getting people to be more conscious of their waste. So, sure, we have some customers who keep forgetting to bring bags and collecting reusables. But for every one of those we have probably 5 or 6 who generally rely on disposable bags but have learned to either bring their own or who have come to accept going without. Not so bad, right?
For School Lunches, Hold the Plastic (New York Times)