Friday, December 26, 2014

Bob Dunning: Smarterbags for a smarter community


From page A2 | January 22, 2014 |

My new best friend Ray Young, someone I’ve never met in this lifetime, sent me a friendly note the other day extolling the virtues of a revolutionary new type of grocery bag.
“Hi Bob,” Ray begins as so much of my mail does, “Given your coverage of supermarkets, I thought you might be interested in the partnership announcement by Bunzl Distribution and Command Packaging to bring bag ban-compliant plastic bags to grocers.”
Yes, Ray, you’ve contacted the right man. In my 44 years as grocery editor of this very newspaper, I’ve seen all sorts of merchants come and go, including Lucky, Albertsons, Ralphs, Cost-U-Less, Stan’s Meat Market and three or four versions of the dearly departed and much-loved State Market.
I was the grocery writer who came up with the oft-quoted “Mayonnaise Index,” which accurately predicts the future price of all grocery items based on the current price of a quart jar of Best Foods.
So what’s on your mind, my friend? If it’s about groceries, grocers or grocery shoppers, I’m all ears.
But give me a minute first to analyze your statement about “bringing bag ban-compliant plastic bags” to the local supermarket.
First off, there are a lot of words beginning with the letter “B” in that sentence, not to mention the potential of a double negative or two.
So, are you telling me these new-and-improved plastic bags of yours are banned by the bag ban or are safe for use by local consumers without fear of arrest?
Most importantly, you should understand that the wind howls mercilessly on a number of days around these parts, and many folks in the general population are concerned that sea birds may end up flying around town with your new plastic bags on their heads.
So, my question is, are these bag ban-compliant bags also seagull-compliant? Do they have a built-in escape hatch for those unlucky birds who may have entered the bag head first in search of the odd salmon head , leftover sushi or mysterious table scrap?
Adds Ray, without completely answering my question, “Bunzl will now offer a cost-effective alternative to paper and unrecyclable reusable bags to supermarkets in areas that have eliminated ultra-thin plastic T-shirt bags.”
Slow down, Ray, you’re losing me again. I mean, I wear baggy T-shirts but they are not ultra-thin. Nor am I. And I’m uncertain what you mean by “unrecyclable reusable bags.”
Ray included a press release about these reusable “smarterbags,” as the manufacturer has dubbed them, complete with trademark.
Turns out these smarterbags are made from recycled plastic agricultural film, a substance I am completely unfamiliar with despite my many summers picking Yolo County tomatoes with the hard-working braceros who came up from Mexico to help with the harvest.
Notes the press release: “According to a Chico State University study, smarterbags have a lower carbon footprint compared to imported reusable or paper bags.”
Ah yes, nothing better to calm the fears of the humble citizens of Davis than a Chico State study. Now would that be the Chico State study undertaken before they banned Pioneer Days or the Chico State study undertaken after they banned Pioneer Days?
Or could it be the Chico State study where various undergraduates tested the durability and strength of bag ban-compliant plastic bags by seeing how far they could jog with a 24-pack of PBR before the bag finally cried “uncle”?
But hey, who needs Good Housekeeping when you can have the Chico State University seal of approval?
“Smarterbags meet all standards to qualify as reusable bags in California cities that have implemented bag ban ordinances. “Smarterbags are strong and are engineered to be used 125 times. A cost-effective alternative to single-use paper bags, smarterbags are both environmentally and economically beneficial for consumers. The product is easy to carry, easy to use and durable in all types of weather.”
Presumably, even, in a 50-mile-per-hour north wind.

— Reach Bob Dunning at





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