Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Evanston businesses adopt compostable bags

At some businesses in Evanston, the question “Paper or plastic?” is no longer relevant.

In an effort to reduce litter, 42 stores and restaurants in the Chicago area have adopted bags that feel like plastic but are 100 percent compostable, according to Green Planet Media, the Chicago organization behind the project.

“Being in the restaurant industry and seeing how many bags these restaurants distribute on a daily basis, and also seeing how tight margins are for them, the research started with figuring out the best alternative route for these bags themselves,” Green Planet Media founder Camilo Ferro said.

Green Planet Media launched its campaign two months ago at a restaurant show at McCormick Place in Chicago. The organization offers its bags for free to businesses that stop using plastic bags. In exchange, Green Planet Media and supporting organizations place advertisements on the bags.

According to Ferro, four to seven people are projected to look at each bag, as the bags are designed to be carried around the home, on the El and in the city.

“We’re replacing these bags at little to no cost to the retailer because we’re using them as an advertising agent,” Ferro said. “We had the light-bulb idea that these bags go into peoples’ houses on a daily basis and people reuse these bags … It essentially serves as a walking billboard.”

Partnership with businesses in Evanston, including Bat 17, Bennison’s Bakery, Edzo’s Burger Shop, Trattoria Demi and the Ultimate Chicken Bar, continues to expand.

“They work better than our old bags. They’re a bit larger,” Le Peep’s managing partner Joel Fondell said. “It’s also good for the environment, so it’s a win-win.”

For businesses that already practice environmental consciousness in conserving resources, such as Dixie Kitchen and Bait Shop, according to co-owner Eric Mangriotis, these bags will make running a green establishment easier.

“We can save on buying our own bags, and they’re biodegradable,” Mangriotis said. “We’re happy and look forward to using them. We try to be conscious of the environment, and this is another step.”

Since the City Council recently postponed until October a vote on legislation to ban plastic bags in Evanston, Ferro said the process is long but Green Planet Media is making an effort to start the initiative now.

“It’s definitely one of those things where we can go in there and really eliminate all these bags from Evanston and not have to involve the government,” Ferro said.

Ferro noted the severity of the pollution caused by plastic bags. Billions of bags are used annually, and the majority sit in landfills or float around in the environment, with every bag used since 1972 remaining in the environment if it has not been recycled. Green Planet Media’s bags appear no different than normal bags but will completely disintegrate.

“The nice thing is they look and feel just like plastic,” Ferro said. “They’re stronger than the standard plastic bag you’d get.”

As Green Planet Media works to expand beyond the Chicago area, Ferro hopes to eventually eliminate all plastic bags from the environment.

“You don’t necessarily need the government involvement to be able to do this and doesn’t have to be on a negative aspect,” Ferro said. “We can show that by using this medium in a positive way.”

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Evanston businesses adopt compostable bags