Plastic Bag Makers Sue ChicoBag - Oceana USA
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June 14, 2011

Plastic Bag Makers Sue ChicoBag

ChicoBag is one of the most popular brands of reusable bags. Their totes are colorful and stylish, and they help us avoid the need to create more of the plastic waste that is clogging our rivers and streams and creating massive garbage patches in our oceans.

But in a low blow meant to drain green companies like Chico Bag of time and resources, a trio of plastic bag manufacturers is suing ChicoBag for exaggerating the dangers of plastic bags to the environment.

Although some of ChicoBag’s online statements about plastic bags were indeed outdated, the company quickly corrected the errors as soon as it was notified of them. But the plastic bag trio, which includes manufacturer Hilex Poly, had no interest in ceasing fire.

This type of lawsuit is often referred to as a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, or a SLAPP suit. In a SLAPP suit, corporations bring often frivolous lawsuits against smaller groups who lack the necessary resources to properly defend themselves. On the bright side, ChicoBag may not lose the lawsuit, according to a lawyer who specializes in the type of lawsuit in question.

Ubiquitous in our society, plastic products fill our homes, grocery stores, and increasingly, our oceans. Some areas of the ocean, like the North Pacific Gyre, are becoming a “plastic soup” as plastic bottles, bags and containers break into tinier and tinier pieces. This microplastic is incredibly difficult to remove from the sea and can easily be ingested by marine life, such as fish and sea turtles who mistake it for food. They can also become entangled in plastic wastes, or ingest it, and either of those outcomes can lead to fatalities.

Thankfully, individuals like you and businesses alike are making efforts to cut down on non-recyclable plastic use thanks in part to companies like ChicoBag. The reusable bag movement has begun to catch on, and considering that between 100 billion and 1 trillion single-use plastic bags are used annually around the world, switching to reusable bags on a global scale could have a huge impact on the health of our oceans.

We hope ChicoBag survives this battle, but in the mean time, please continue to make sustainable choices for the oceans. Take the pledge to reuse and recycle this summer and do your part to keep our oceans free of plastic.

(Full disclosure: ChicoBag created a sea turtle-themed reusable bag for Oceana several years ago.)