Local partnership provides free trees and reusable paper bag tool
Just in time for today’s Earth Day celebration, two environmental stewardship inventors joined forces to offer Santa Barbara County residents free trees and a way to reuse paper bags.
The new tree planting app, Sprout, and hello bag, a tool to reuse paper grocery bags, are partnering to offer free trees with every hello bag purchase.
Through Sprout, the free trees live inside a virtual forest on the app and will be planted in real life in a country of the customer’s choice between Madagascar, Kenya or Honduras. The app automatically calculates the user’s personal carbon footprint and guides them to plant the correct number of trees to offset that footprint.
For every hello bag purchased, Sprout will plant one tree in one of the three countries. It’s an effort to address the link between extreme poverty and deforestation and alleviate poverty through environmental stewardship.
In addition, the hello bag’s frame, a plastic square with four prongs, allows users to open and stand the bag so they can collect kitchen scraps or other compost items in the paper bag. When it’s time to compost, consumers can dump the food scraps out and tear up the bag to go right in the pile as well.
“My concept is if you choose paper bags in the grocery store, we have a nice design to help you keep those bags open and utilize them to make them more effective for multiple uses,” Chris Blaul, the inventor of hello bag, told the News-Press. “We want to eradicate single-use plastic bags. That’s really the end goal.”
He said partnering with Sprout allows him to “complete the circle.”
“We’re trying to make sure we align with an appropriate pairing like Sprout to really make sure we’re giving back,” Mr. Blaul said. “I think it speaks for itself — trees create oxygen, and we’re cutting trees to create paper bags. It sort of closes the loop.”
Mr. Blaul’s wife, Delfina, told the News-Press that she’s excited to be a part of a purpose that tells people that paper is a better choice than plastic.
“To us, every bag makes a difference,” she said. “All we need to do is just do our part.”
Currently, 100 billion plastic bags pass through the hands of Americans every year, and according to The World Counts, a website that tracks the number of plastic bags produced worldwide, less than 1% of the more than 1 trillion plastic bags produced are recycled.
“We really have a major problem going on and people need to sort of wake up and do their part, and this is a simple way for people to do their part without really changing their lifestyle much, yet feel warm and fuzzy inside,” Mr. Blaul said. “Giving them (bags) that extra life beyond the 12 minutes from the grocery store to home, hello bag is a great opportunity for everybody to utilize paper bags. Use it for camping, backpacking, tailgating, gardens — it’s very simple to use.”
One hello bag frame costs $16.99, but there are multiple packages and colors available for customers.
Doron Bauer, founder of the Sprout app, said in a news release, “We are thrilled to be partnering with hello bag and to invite people who purchase their product to plant trees with Sprout. Sprout is an easy-to-use app that plants trees in real life and in a personalized digital forest on users’ devices.
“The magic of Sprout is that we have access to very affordable trees around the world, and it gives you the confidence that you are helping Mother Nature in the fight against climate change.”