Hello! Today we are tackling plastic shopping bags. Ubiquitous, abundant, and convenient, they pose several problems environmentally. The first is that plastic bags are produced from oil. The second is that while many plastics are recyclable, disposable plastic bags are so thin that they are really only viable for “downcycling” – the term used for a recycled product which is of lesser value than the original material. Third, although some grocery stores are starting to collect used bags for recycling, many plastic bags do not get recycled. Estimates of the number of plastic bags consumed annually range from 90 to 100 billion. That’s a lot of bags! This represents a significant resource expenditure, and a waste disposal problem.
There are two ways to manage this plastic bag situation.
(A) Reuse: Save up the bags that you get when you shop and reuse them for a whole host of household tasks. In addition to reusing plastic shopping bags for another shopping trip, you can use them as trash can liners, wet clothes bags, or to collect pet waste. Pinterest has a ton of ideas for reusing plastic bags, and has some fun suggestions for how to store them: http://pinterest.com/pin/153685406003515587/. Another tip is to keep a few spare plastic bags tucked in your purse or coupon book, if you carry one.
(B) Reduce: Bring your own bag. Keep a few reusable bags in your car and by the front door so you don’t forget them. There is a variety of options for durable, reusable shopping bags: Tote bags, knit bags, and even reusable polyester produce bags.
Finally, because it’s hard to remember to bring your bags into the store with you, check out this website where you can order a free static window cling to remind you to bring your reusable shopping bags with you. This site also has good deals on stylish shopping bags.
Now the challenge is up to you. Take a picture of yourself using your reusable shopping bags and send it in! Or, if you tackle one of the DIY projects listed above (or another one that you think we should know about), send that in too! Every time we hear from you about a challenge you have successfully undertaken, we will enter your name in the weekly drawing. Email photos and descriptions to firstname.lastname@example.org with subject line “Make-A-Difference Month.”
Let’s make a difference!
The Green Book by Elizabeth Rogers and Thomas M. Kostigen