Michael DeSanto has a New Year's resolution for Phoenix Books: to make the business a plastic bag-free zone. Effective January 1st, the Vermont-owned group of bookstores - with locations in Essex, Burlington, Rutland and Chester - has stopped using single-use plastic bags at the check-out counter, and instead offers customers the options of recycled/recyclable paper bags as well as reusable totes sold at or below cost.
"I cannot turn a blind eye to the catastrophic effect plastic in general and plastic bags in particular have on our environment," said DeSanto, co-owner of the business. "Despite the challenges of finding sturdy replacements to protect the purchases of our customers, I am determined to make plastic bags disappear from our stores. I strongly believe this is the right thing to do. We will be promoting the use of reusable bags from now on, but I also don't see a sensible way to avoid using paper bags, although I would like to do that some day. We can't be perfect, I know that, but we can try to do the best we can. By eliminating plastic bags from Phoenix Books, perhaps we can help reduce the demand for the petroleum that makes up 80% of a plastic bag."
In the United States, according to the EPA, we use over 380 billion plastic bags and wraps yearly, requiring 12 million barrels of oil to create. “From our point of view, single-use plastic bags represent a waste of resources,” says Michele Morris, Director of Outreach and Communications at the Chittenden Solid Waste District. “Especially when that bag is used just once, then tossed in the trash instead of being taken to one of the many grocery or other local retail locations that collect many types of bags and other filmy plastic for recycling. Anything sent to Vermont’s last remaining landfill as “trash” will stay buried there virtually forever. We applaud Phoenix Books for encouraging the use of durable, reusable bags whenever possible. Durable beats disposable all day long.”
Morris further emphasizes that plastic bags, over-wraps and all other filmy plastics do not belong in your recycling bin because they cause all sorts of problems at the recycling sorting facility and contaminate other marketable materials. “Just because something has a triangle with a number doesn’t mean it’s recyclable in your blue bin. Not sure? Check out cswd.net or call our hotline (802-872-8111)!”