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It's not all that hard being green

Newsprint recycling has been around for a long time, and when readers finish up with their weekly issue of the Pine Journal or Northland Smart Shopper, chances are it will head into the recycling bin. It's one of those "feel good" things that all...

Newsprint recycling has been around for a long time, and when readers finish up with their weekly issue of the Pine Journal or Northland Smart Shopper, chances are it will head into the recycling bin. It's one of those "feel good" things that all of us can do for the environment without too much effort.

It's not as easy, however, dealing with those little orange or clear plastic bags in which many newspapers and shoppers - including our own Northland Smart Shopper - are delivered. Sometimes they are glibly tossed into the waste bin, only to go back into our nation's already over-burdened landfills.

In landfills, plastic bags add to landfill volume, hinder landfill compaction and delay the biodegradation of discarded organic materials trapped inside, thereby fostering the formation of methane, a harmful greenhouse gas.

Worse yet, if a resident fails to pick up the shopper and it eventually ends up on the ground or in the ditch, that little plastic bag that it came in may become a highly visible and widespread pollutant that takes a long time to break down and can pose a threat to animal and marine species and even to human health.

Recently, one of our employees got to thinking of all the plastic we use here at our newspaper operation - in the form of the plastic bags which often protect the more than 20,000 Northland Smart Shoppers delivered each week throughout Carlton County.

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And though the wheels sometime turn a bit slowly, once the idea was planted, it at last took root, and from here on out, the Northland Smart Shopper will be phasing in oxo-biodegradable poly delivery bags in both the clear and orange varieties.

These bags are an excellent step in the right direction in improving our environmental consciousness and responsibility. They can degrade within a few months, and they are also recyclable in many community recycling programs as part of the plastic recycling stream.

It's one small thing we in the newspaper business can do for our customers and our world - one that has very big implications for our environment.

Wendy Johnson

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