Paper or plastic?

Creative Commons image from taberandrew on Flickr. 
Creative Commons image from taberandrew on Flickr.

Today, I need your help. 

How many plastic bags do you have in cupboard? 

While some of us are being greener and bringing our own cloth totes to grocery shop, some big box retailers are revamping their entire checkouts with plastic bag carousels in what seems like an attempt to use even more bags! 

And I'm sure you've heard about how bad plastic bags are for the environment (they don't biodegrade, they end up in waterways, they're made out of oil products...). 

Do you live in a city with a plastic bag ban? 

I used to. Then this summer I moved from Seattle to the Detroit area. And now I see plastic bags everywhere I turn. My cupboards overfloweth (not literally, but you know, you forget your bags in the car and you're not used to living in a city without a ban, and cashiers are so fast with the plastic and you don't know how to juggle anyway...). 

It's got me thinking about consumption. What is processed and put into the world so I can bring it home. What is processed and put into the world so you can bring it home

I'll be selling Upitees at the Detroit Urban Craft Fair on December 7 & 8, and I've gotta figure out how to send home my customers with their undies. 

Do I recycle the plastic bags I've accumulated in an effort to reuse, or do I purchase paper bags made from post-consumer waste that have a more boutique feel so my clients feel special when they leave my booth? That purchase would put something new into the world... But it's also a purchase that supports the values of my company, and my values. 

I mean, I make undies out of old tshirts because I believe that we already have more than enough, materially, and I am passionate about finding creative ways to use and reuse materials sustainably. I make underwear out of old tshirts because I think about the impact that fashion has on the environment, our psyches, and future generations. I believe that fashion and environmental stewardship are not mutually exclusive and that we’ve already been entrusted with everything we need to live full lives, and to ensure that our children’s children thrive. (For more on why I do what I do, check out my manifesto. About underwear. :)). 

So either bag option aligns in different ways. 

But would either paper or plastic just end up being thrown away, anyway? 

That's the crux. If they both get thrown away anyway, then I don't want new things put into the world. But I for sure want my clients to know how special I think they are, and walking away with a pretty bag goes a long way to convey that. 

What would you do? 

Because when you actually think about it, you can't throw anything "away"- it has to go somewhere. To a landfill. Into ground water. Into the oceans. 

There's no such thing as waste. 

Which makes what we use our resources to produce in the first place even more important. 

And makes choices like the one I'm faced with about how to bag my goodies even harder. 

So I'd love to hear from you. If you met me at a craft show, would you want to walk away with a reused plastic bag knowing that it was reused, or a post-consumer paper bag as special as the undies inside? 

Please share your thoughts and musings in the comments below. Thank you so much for your wisdom! 

xoxo, 
Kori 
P.S. Your chance to save 20% on membership to the Underwear of the Month Club only lasts for one more week. Use the coupon code RocketPowered and put a party in your pants. Monthly!  

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Kori
Kori

May 16, 2016

Thank you, Nancy! That’s wonderful feedback- it will be interesting to see how customers respond! :)

Kori
Kori

May 16, 2016

Diana, thank you so much for your thoughtful response. Making a sign or telling customers about why they’re getting a plastic bag is a great idea! :)

Nancy Mclaughlin
Nancy Mclaughlin

May 16, 2016

This is a tough one Kori … I agree with Diana. Recycle your plastic bags and share your philosophy on recycling. Customers will love your honesty!

Diana
Diana

May 16, 2016

I love that you have a manifesto! Your paper/plastic dilemma is tough but I’d suggest re-using the plastic bags, thereby giving them a second life, and posting a little sign about your recycling philosophy and how you hope your customers will reuse the bags again after their purchase.

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