by: Rita A. Leonard, Stiv Wilson at Wallace Books demonstrates one of the Westmoreland store’s new eco-friendly shopping bags, resembling plastic but made of biodegradable corn by-products.

Westmoreland's Wallace Books now offers 'green' shopping bags made of corn by-products, which are guaranteed to biodegrade in landfills in about a year, leaving no toxic residue. Similar in appearance to the plastic equivalent, these eco-friendly bags are presented as a way to reduce our 'carbon footprint' on the planet.

Wallace Books voluntarily changed over to corn-based bags this spring. Owner Julie Wallace attributes the idea to sales associate Stiv Wilson. 'He went on the Internet to explore green products, and discovered these bags at Trellis Earth Products,' she says. 'We ordered an initial supply of 1,500, and converted to an eco-friendly option that our customers love.'

Wilson also works in Portland with the Surfrider Foundation ( in an effort to ban petroleum-based plastic bags in Portland. 'We're worried about plastic getting into the watershed and becoming detrimental to birds and marine wildlife,' he says.

The new bags resemble the plastic type, and are translucent and waterproof. They can be stamped with a business' logo with FDA-approved food-grade ink, if desired. 'The cost is similar to the plastic bags that we formerly used here,' assures Wallace. 'But now we feel like we're doing something to help the environment. It would be great if other businesses chose to convert as well.'

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