Rutland students promote reusable shopping bags

04/22/09 7:34AM By Nina Keck
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VPR/Nina Keck
Jim Sabataso, co-chair of Sustainable Rutland stands with two of the hand sewn shopping bags made from old neck ties and fabric scraps.
(Host)   In honor of Earth Day, a group of students from Rutland High School will be handing out homemade shopping bags today.   

Their goal?   To make people more aware of the environmental costs of using disposable plastic ones.  

VPR's Nina Keck has more.    

(sound of grocery check out)

(Keck)     You know the drill. You're at the grocery store and the checkout clerk asks paper or plastic?    Most of us go for plastic.   Every year, Americans use about 380 billion bags and only about 1 percent of those get recycled.   And get this - one plastic bag can take hundreds of years to biodegrade. 

(Sabataso) "It's one of the world's fastest growing waste products."

(Keck)   That's Jim Sabataso, co-chair of Sustainable Rutland - part of Rutland's Creative Economy initiative.    Sabataso and a group of students from Rutland High School's Environmental Action Club made reusable shopping bags from old neckties and fabric. They're giving the bags to shoppers at Rutland's Price Chopper and Wal-Mart stores. Sabataso says they didn't want to just hand out pamphlets with statistics - but rather be part of the solution.

(Sabataso) "So the first step is to remind them, `Hey if you brought a bag, go back and get it.'   If they don't have one then we're going to give them one of these very cool bags that we made ourselves."

(Keck)   Price Chopper rewards customers who bring in their own bags with a 3 cents a bag rebate and store officials say they've seen a big jump in the number of people taking advantage of that.   Diane Ciavola is one such customer.   She uses reusable bags whenever she goes shopping.  It's important she says, but like many people she admits remembering to use them is hard.

(Ciavola) "What I've done is I keep them in my car.  So they're always available to me.  ‘Cuz if you don't do that, you won't use them."

(Keck)    Another customer nods and says her trick is to start every shopping list with - bring bags.  

For VPR News, I'm Nina Keck in Rutland.

Note:  The company is giving bags away in downtown Rutland in front of the Price Chopper and Walmart, this afternoon starting at 2pm.

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