‘Bag Monster' Campaigns For Greener Chicago

Local cosmetics store sponsors event promoting eco-friendly shopping, hands out free reusable shopping bags to customers.

CHICAGO -- Dozens of shoppers outside Lush Cosmetics at 859 W. Armitage Wednesday April 16, 2008 were greeted by a human sized "Bag Monster" that took to the streets to protest the use of plastic shopping bags in favor of reusable cloth bags.

The cosmetics store, which is working along a variety of platforms to promote environmentally friendly business, staged the Bag Monster scene to spread information about the prevalence of plastic bags as well as to promote alternatives to using the lightweight plastic bags. The Bag Monster, which was really store employee Ben Gannon, is comprised of a costume that is made of more than 350 plastic shopping bags, which Gannon stated was the amount of plastic bags a family of four in Chicagoland uses in three months.

The spectacle's costumed crusader was working to represent what event sponsor Lush Cosmetics feels is a more environmentally friendly way to shop. Some store employees claim plastic bags are not the most environmentally friendly option when it comes to shopping bags. "Plastic bags take about 1,000 years to biodegrade," Gannon stated, adding, "So every one ever created is still in the process of decomposing."

To help lessen the impact and use of plastic bags, representatives of Lush Cosmetics handed out free reusable cloth tote bags for shopping needs and asked local shoppers to sign a petition urging the city government to ban plastic bags. The store gave out the reusable bags partly to propose a third option in the classic "paper or plastic" decision shoppers face, as store employee Ann-Michelle Friedman stated that neither paper nor plastic was an ideal environmental solution unless the bags were reused multiple times. "The best thing would be a reusable bag," store employee Ann-Michelle Friedman stated about shopping bags. "Reusing a reusable bag even five times makes a difference."

The Bag Monster suit took additions through the afternoon as local shoppers exchanged any plastic bags they were carrying for the store's cloth bags. Gannon was pleased to help out with the store's crusade against plastic bags even while covered in hundreds of them amid some puzzled stares from onlookers.

"Some people look confused," Gannon said about his appearance and his goal. "Like, why is that guy wearing a suit of plastic bags? But once you talk to them with even just minimal information they can realize it's a good idea to switch to reusable resources."

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