Two cool things

Frozen New York. Or rather a couple hundred frozen people at Grand Central. Wish I’d seen it.

Ireland has gotten rid of plastic bags:

In 2002, Ireland passed a tax on plastic bags; customers who want them must now pay 33 cents per bag at the register. There was an advertising awareness campaign. And then something happened that was bigger than the sum of these parts.

Within weeks, plastic bag use dropped 94 percent. Within a year, nearly everyone had bought reusable cloth bags, keeping them in offices and in the backs of cars. Plastic bags were not outlawed, but carrying them became socially unacceptable—on a par with wearing a fur coat or not cleaning up after one’s dog.

Why can’t everywhere else in the world manage the same?

Scott and me have taken to walking around with flip and tumble bags. They’re bags that roll up into smallish balls. They’re most excellently convenient. I carry ’em in my handbag so I never have to resort to a plastic bag. (Via boingboing.)


  1. dragonfly on #

    we just this week bought reusable green bags at the commissary (military grocery store). they’re right useful for shopping other places in germany too, since you have to pay for plastic bags here. (i’ve wanted them for awhile, but they always seemed to be out at the commissary. we snatched up a bunch of them when they finally had some!)

  2. Mahek on #

    In my opinion, Ireland is one of the worlds leading countries in making wise choices. (eg. Smoking ban and this)

  3. tole on #

    they were thinking about doing this in aus when i was in year 12 – it’s such a good idea, i’m diappointed that they didn’t, but hopefully ireland will get the point across…

  4. Mary Anne Mohanraj on #

    I have to admit, I like the plastic grocery bags. But only because we use them to clean up our dog’s poop. Otherwise, we’d have to buy plastic bags for the purpose. But otherwise, in principle, I’m with you on this. 🙂

  5. Megan Crewe on #

    Wow, that’s amazing! I wish they’d do something like that here, too. Some of the lower-cost grocery stores already charge 5 cents per bag, and many of them are now offering reusable bags at the check out, but it’s nowhere close to what Ireland did yet. Thanks for the link to those flip and tumble bags, too! We have some cloth bags but they’re always a bit of a hassle to carry around–those look like they’d be great.

  6. Kenina-chan on #

    Wow, we should get a ton of people to freeze to protest plastic bags.

  7. Kadie-Wa on #

    Holy cow!! That frozen people thing was AWESOME! I want to do that!

    YAY! The world is finally helping out the planet. Does our president know about Ireland? We should try that.

  8. Kelly G. on #

    I absolutely love Improv Everywhere (the people behind the freeze). My favorite stunt they ever did was the Moebius–they selected a Starbucks and had a “time warp” staged so that every five minutes the exact same things happened again: a woman comes in and argues with her boyfriend, somebody gets a phone call with a really annoying ring tone, a man spills his coffee with a gasp, another guy runs through with a boombox playing “Shiny Happy People”, and they repeat the same conversations.

    They did this “loop” like ten times before they finally just walked out of the store like they didn’t know each other at all. So cool.

  9. Mary Elizabeth S. on #

    That’s too cool! I would have loved to have been there to see it.

    There’s a link in that site to the Improv Everywhere Global site, which has a group in my city, but sadly there doesn’t seem to be anything going on here.

    And thanks for the link to the flip and tumble bags—those are great. 🙂


  10. Jez on #

    That video is amazing, I wish I could have been a part of that.

    That’s fabulous about the bags! Around here in Chicagoland they’re trying to put through a ban on plastic bags. So far a few grocers have agreed & no longer offer plastic. I really hope we can follow Ireland’s example.

  11. Sarah Rees Brennan on #

    Lovely, lovely Ireland. No plastic bags. Woman president. No taxes for writers.

    The message is very clear. The universe is telling you to come see it!

  12. rebecca on #

    whole foods has started charging for plastic bags. i got a reusable net-like bag thing for christmas after my parents heard about the ireland thing. the only part that sucks is when i forget to bring bags with me. i am very good at forgetting things. 😛

    that freezing thing is pretty cool. reminds me of a flash mob.

  13. Justine on #

    Sarah Rees Brennan: Careful! We might take you up on that and move into your house!

    Rebecca: That’s the beauty of the flip & tumble bags. I never forget ’em cause I always have one or two in my handbag.

  14. dory on #

    Now I want to move to Ireland. Or visit for a really long time.

    Could you imagine if every country got rid of their plastic bags? Or even half of the countries?

    That would practically save the environment. Well not really.

    But it’d really help.

    Go Ireland!

  15. janet on #

    I’ve been shopping with reusable bags for years, and just in the last year or so I’ve noticed that I no longer get treated like a weirdo by checkers. Now they don’t even comment when they see the tote bag.

    Most of my bags are ratty old canvas, freebies that I’ve picked up at conferences and such. I keep ’em in a drawer next to the front door so they’re easy to grab on my way out. I got a lot better about remembering them when I started doing most of my shopping on foot — having a sturdy bag with good handles is essential if you’re carrying them farther than across the parking lot.

    My goal is to get down to NO plastic bags in the house. I’ve started using biobags (made of cornstarch) for trash.

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