the plastic bag situation

Though I always had some awareness of the environmental impact of using plastic bags, I recently had a moment of clarity about the urgency of this situation. I received an email from my aunt, containing a link to a slideshow, The Dangers of Plastic Bags. If you didn't look at it when I posted it last time, I urge you to look at it now.

I have done some thinking about my own use of plastic bags, since I originally wrote about it. I said then that we only use plastic grocery bags for small things that will slip out of our metal cart. We've since acquired some EarthWise reusable shopping bags. These, or similar bags, are just $1 at most grocery stores. Not only that, but many stores will give you a refund of 5 cents per reusable bag, per shopping trip. If you want something more stylish, there are several companies out there making fun tote bags meant for grocery shopping. Of course, these cost a bit more money, but they are also spreading a positive message and may last longer than some of the $1 bags.

That covers grocery shopping. However, I failed to consider other uses of plastic bags. Retail shopping, for example. I haven't got a real plan to curb my use of these bags yet, but in the meantime I can at least request no double-bagging, and I can use the paper shopping bags with handles whenever they are available (without first bagging the items in plastic before placing them in there, which some stores like to do). I may get an over-the-shoulder tote bag I can bring with me if I know I'll be shopping.

However, my biggest use of plastic bags is one I had never even noticed. Most days, I grab lunch at a deli or salad bar in my neighborhood at work. This lunch is almost always placed in a plastic bag, which I carry back to my desk. I was a bit horrified to realize all the plastic bags I use for five minutes or less and then immediately throw away.

I've been looking for a few weeks to find a mini-version of those reusable shopping bags, as that would be perfect, but I haven't found them anywhere. I finally found a website with a line of cute cloth lunch bags, and I ordered one to try. I can fold or roll it up, keep it in my purse, and bag my lunch from the delis in it to carry back to my office. In case anyone is interested in bags from I'm Organic, I found a coupon code for 10% off -- just enter the word "green" in the coupon code box when you check out.

My goal is to eliminate the use of plastic bags entirely from my life. I know there will be times when I forget my grocery bags, or I run into the pharmacy or another store and come out with a plastic bag. But I am hoping to make those instances few and far between.

Yesterday, at the grocery store, a lady in front of me had a small bottle of juice and a milk jug. She put them in separate bags, and then double-bagged them. Four bags for two items.

Let's try to stop some of the 100 billion plastic bags we throw away every year in the United States.

3 comments:

mo*reezy said...

A, check out this site:

http://envirosax.com/

I have one of their bags that I keep rolled up in my purse and use at the drugstore, veg/fruit market, and library. Timon's aunt ordered a pack of 5 from the graphics series and gave each bag to one of us. (if you're wondering, I have the flora bag 4) It's very compact and very useful - can fit a lot and seems to hold up well.

Anonymous said...

Target also has reusable bags (or sacks, as they call them out here!) in a variety of sizes - the regular grocery type, a zip up one that could fit in a purse, and a couple of smaller sizes that would work for small purchases.
--K

liz said...

This is so great. I've been trying to reduce the plastic bags in my life, too, and so we have reusable bags we take to the grocery store and to the office for lunch. But, we've noticed a problem: we reused all of those bags for disposing of kitty litter. Now that our supply of plastic bags is dwindling, I'm not sure how to dispose of the used litter. Any ideas? (I could google this, I suppose... I bet someone else has noticed this problem!)

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