A new year is always a good time to set goals and establish habits. I think the start of 2020 is a good time for all of us to work on developing more eco-friendly habits. I’m going to choose a “Green Goal” each month to share with you all. I hope you’ll decide to join me.
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Green Goal: Reusable Bags
It’s entirely possible you’ve been bringing your own bags to the grocery store for ages. Good job! But it’s also possible that you never…or rarely…do. No judgment, though. Today is the perfect time to begin.
I’ve been using reusable grocery bags for around 10 years, I believe. It was a new concept here in rural Oklahoma at the time. In fact, none of our stores had them for sale. When a friend who lives in the Pacific Northwest heard that, she kindly sent me a few.
Baggers at our local grocery stores had no idea what to think of the lady who didn’t want her groceries in their free plastic bags. But gradually they became accustomed to it. Some asked me why I brought my own bags and I had the perfect opportunity to share.
For the most part, people around here have been accepting, and some even complimentary about it. I’ve had a couple of people who were less than nice about it but I’d rather focus on the positive.
First, let’s talk about why this habit is important. Did you know that Americans use 100 BILLION (!) plastic bags a year? And that it takes 12 million barrels of oil to manufacture those bags?
- The average American family takes home almost 1,500 plastic shopping bags a year.
- Only 1 percent of plastic bags are returned for recycling. That means that the average family only recycles 15 bags a year; the rest end up in landfills or as litter.
- 100,000 marine animals are killed by plastic bags annually.
- Plastic bags are used for an average of 12 minutes.
- It takes 500 (or more) years for a plastic bag to degrade in a landfill. Unfortunately the bags don’t break down completely but instead photo-degrade, becoming microplastics that absorb toxins and continue to pollute the environment.
If you aren’t in the habit of bringing your own bags I hope you’ll consider giving it a go. Here’s how to get started:
1. Purchase a few bags. There are SO MANY options these days! I have a variety that I’ve collected or been given over time. It’s nice to have different sizes and types. Here are a few options:
2. Develop a routine for using them. When you are first getting started it’s easy to forget your bags until you are standing in the checkout line. I find it really helpful to keep some in my car at all times. I’m in the habit now but until you get used to it, try placing the bags in the front seat with your handbag when you leave the house to go shopping. Here are some helpful hints for remembering your bags:
3. After unloading your groceries at home, fold up your bags and either take them right back out to your car or leave them in your “landing zone” if you have one. That way you’ll see them the next time you leave the house.
4. Keep them clean.
If you are already an old pro at using your own bags at the grocery store, let’s see if there’s a way to up your game. Do you also remember to use reusable bags at other types of stores? There are some stores I go to regularly where I am good about remembering to bring in a bag or two but if it’s not part of my usual routine shopping I sometimes forget.
I do try to keep a small bag in my purse. These are the ones I have:
What about when you are vacationing? Again, keeping a bag or two in your purse helps. If we are going to be staying in a condo and doing some grocery shopping, I try to remember to pack a few grocery bags in our luggage.
Or what about produce bags? Are you still using the thin plastic bags in the produce section? This is where I plan to change my habits this year. I have a couple of net produce bags my daughter gave me a few years ago and I’m going to buy something like these:
I’d love to hear from you. Do you always (or usually) remember to use reusable bags?
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