Just say no to that plastic bag!
Most of us already know about bringing a reusable bag or basket to the grocery store. Many stores will even credit you a few cents to promote this good behaviour.
But sometimes we forget our bags at home or in the car. You can keep your reusable bags in the front seat of the car or stash a small one in your purse for when unexpected purchases catch you by surprise.
This compact chico bag is a great one to keep in your purse or in your pocket!
Pro Tip: it is important to wash your reusable bags to avoid cross-contamination.
Beyond the bags at the checkout, there are plastic bags hiding all over! The produce area and bulk section are two big culprits.
Think critically about your purchases before tossing them in a bag. Items like oranges, bananas, and avocados do not need a bag since they have a peel.
Smaller loose items like cherries and mushrooms would be just as happy if you brought a small plastic or paper bag from home instead of using a new one.
Wet items like broccoli and carrots will also be fine in a reused bag.
Dirtier produce such as potatoes can just roam free in your basket or cart and then be wrapped in paper or a reusable bag for the ride home.
The bulk section can benefit from the same type of thinking. Bring your own small bag or container. Nuts, beans, and coffee are a-ok with being transported in a reused bag.
If you have already been saying no to plastic bags for a while, you might be running low on your stock at home, which is great! A reusable mesh bag can be used for many of your produce items. These types of bags are often sold at the local grocery store.
Here is a link to some of my favs!
But there are instances other than just the grocery store when bags are offered. Try making it a habit to generally tell cashiers you don’t need a bag when making a purchase. They will be pleased about not having to bag your items and small businesses will be happy to save the bag.
If you are only getting an item or two, you can easily pop it into your pocket, purse, or just carry it.
If you forget your bag, buying several items can lead to fun mental and physical challenges of how to get it all home. Be willing to try!
I occasionally feel silly when I tell cashiers too late and my items have already been bagged, but don’t be embarrassed.
Saying “I actually don’t need a bag” usually results in smiles as your items are unloaded.
To save on using plastic bags at home, think about which garbages need a plastic liner. Bins that are used for mainly dry trash such as the bathroom and office can go without. And often the trash can generally be dumped without having to take out the bag.
Other opportunities to refuse a plastic bag:
- Buy bread from a bakery, they tend to use paper instead of the plastic bags on grocery store breads
- When getting takeout food, tell them you don’t need the bag
- Choose a head of lettuce instead of the pre-washed and packaged in a bag lettuces
- Reuse a bag for pet waste instead of buying new bags for the job
But why should we be avoiding plastic bags?
It is estimated that between 500 billion and 1 trillion plastic bags are used globally each year.
Generally, plastic bags are made from polyethylene and take up to 1,000 years to breakdown. And these plastics remain toxic even after they break down.
Some bags are now made from vegetable-based bioplastics or a biodegradable polymer. But most degradeable bags do not readily breakdown once inside a sealed landfill as these bags need exposure to sun, water, and/or air to decompose.
Each year millions of discarded plastic bags end up as litter in the environment when improperly disposed of.
On land, plastic bags are one of the most prevalent types of litter in inhabited areas. Large buildups of plastic bags can clog drainage systems and contribute to flooding.
Plastic bags were found to constitute a significant portion of the floating marine debris. If washed out to sea, plastic bags can be carried long distances by ocean currents. Hundreds of different species are known to have suffered from entanglement or ingestion of plastic marine debris.
The solution is not a plastic bag ban.
A ban shifts production to paper or compostable bags, both of which have heavy environmental consequences.
Both compostable and paper bags require more material in the manufacturing process. This means higher consumption of raw materials in the manufacture of the bags, greater energy in bag manufacturing, and greater fuel use in the transport of the finished product.
The solution is in the elimination of our heavy and often needless use of the bag.
There are many ways to avoid a bag, you just have to think about it.
If you have other bag saving tips, feel free to leave them in the comments.
Save the bag, save the earth, save yourselves!