3P SoundBite: Emily Utter of ChicoBags

ChicoBag-Beauty-Shot-10-200.jpg3P SoundBite emerged from our desire to show that entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs in sustainability come from all different walks of life…they could be people you know, or they could even be you! Every Thursday, we bring you a new profile and a new perspective.
Ever heard of an anti-plastic bag lobbyist? You haven’t until you meet Emily Utter, brand evangelist of ChicoBags in Chico, Calif. She knows her politics and readily points out that San Francisco was the first city to ban plastic bags in grocery stores. Formerly an employee at the San Francisco Department of the Environment, Emily worked with the city of San Francisco to propose grocery bag fees.
Today, Emily asks TriplePundit to reach out to the community to aid her in her cause.
Read inside to find out how you can help!


About ChicoBags: Shortly after graduating from business school, Andy Keller took one look at the Neal Road Landfill in Chico some years ago and noticed that plastic bags were everywhere. In response to this, Andy developed the first prototype for a reusable bag and created a company: Chico Bags.
How Chico Bags work: The prototype that Andy developed included a small carabiner so the bag can be attached to a backpack and a small pouch allows the user to tuck the bag away in a safe place, ready for the next trip to the grocery store.
Ireland, model for the Plastic Bag Ban: Emily says that imposing a plastic bag fee creates an incentive to change behavior. “It’s not just seen as a fringe thing anymore.”
In Ireland, the fee imposed was at 15 cents per bag and within a year, 90% started carrying their own bags, which she says created a social norm. “People who didn’t carry their own bags were embarrassed,” Emily said.
The ChicoBags Archenemy:Emily tells TriplePundit that she has only one enemy in life, and that is the family of Plastic Bag Monsters. One Bag Monster can be made up of 600 bags, the typical number an individual uses in a year. In a recent Santa Monica City Council meeting, a Bag Monster says he is seen in 32% of landfills and complains of being so pervasive, as plastic bags cannot decompose naturally.
Reducing plastic bag waste: “Pay it forward,” Emily suggests. She often offers ChicoBags to strangers, trading in their plastic bags for a ChicoBag. “Now you need to give a reusable bag to someone else,” she tells them. “I usually give people a bag when I am in a grocery line, and everyone is watching.”
Now, Emily Utter wants to know how TriplePundit readers practice the old “reduce, reuse, recycle” principle. We have five colorful ChicoBags (red, yellow, orange, blue and green) to give away to readers in exchange for the best and most practical tips.
chicobags.jpg
The winners will be determined by active readers and the TriplePundit staff!
More on ChicoBags: http://www.chicobags.com
Also, meet the ChicoBags rival, the Bag Monster, by clicking here.
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Clara Kuo is a marketing communications strategist with an MBA in international marketing from the Monterey Institute of International Studies. Her professional interests include social media, entrepreneurship/intrapreneurship and the triple bottom line. She blogs here and on her self-named blog (www.clarakuo.com).

Clara lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and considers herself an international citizen. She has an MBA from the Monterey Institute of International Studies, and currently works in San Francisco as a marketing analyst. You can find her tweeting, blogging or simply continue an existing 3P conversation by commenting on a post.