Archive for the ‘Buy Once Use Less’ Category

Reading Log: “Is It Time to Bag The Plastic?”

I read articles like this and my smug-ometer goes up into the Gwyneth zone. I mean, really. People are still using plastic bags? (Kidding! I am not judging you plastic bag users. OK maybe a little bit.)

Key points I found interesting:

  • plastic bags can’t be recycled in general recycling. (And if you put them in your regular recycling, they will jam up the sorting machines and even damage them. And they ain’t cheap to fix.)
  • New York City’s annual plastic bag toll- $10 million a year, 100,000 tons of plastic bags in landfills.
  • Volume of plastic bags in landfills: soaring exponentially
  • Bag taxes and bans are the most effective way to reduce plastic bag consumption– but no one likes them.

As a long time plastic bag avoider, here are some tips to make it easier remember your own bags:

  • Shop at stores that give you a bag credit. (This only helps if you are a cheapskate like me- but Whole Foods and Sprouts both give 5 cents credit for each bag. Ralphs gives you Ralphs Rewards points which is BS since I never rack up enough in a month to get a gas discount- bring back the 5 cents bag credit, Ralphs!  Trader Joe’s lets you enter into a drawing for free groceries which I have never won but which I fantasize about like some people fantasize about winning the lotto. I imagine the sesame honey cashew binge I will go on and it’s a heck of a motivator.)
  • Keep bags in your car/bike basket/main means of transportation at all time. I have not bought a reuseable grocery bag in– ever?– because they hand them out as freebies at conferences and whatnot. Anyway, I keep them in my car trunk and even if I forget to bring them in to the store I can still skip the plastic bag- I just tell the checker to put the groceries straight into the cart and bag them when I get to my car. Easy.
  • Buy once, use less. I keep a Riesenthal reuseable shopping bag in my handbag at all times. It folds up to about the size of a packet of tissues and keeps you from getting caught buying something without a bag to put it in. I like the kind that folds up and has the elastic strap more than the one that folds into a pocket- less to fuss with.
  • Just say no. A lot of times, like if I have misjudged how many reusable bags I will need on a grocery run or if I’m getting a flat of berries at the Farmer’s Market, I’ll get offered an extra bag. I am fine carrying that extra box of cereal or holding the berries- just say no!

And one extreme tip from my friend Amy, who is on a mission to go totally plastic free:

  • Save old bread bags and reuse in place of plastic bags when buying bulk items or produce. (I have produce bags but they are often in use and/or in the wash- so I tend to get my produce loose. But I also do have plastic bread bags each week because I am not going to bake my own sandwich bread when House of Bread and Homeboy Industries do such a good job…. and while this tip smacks of Depression-era frugal lunacy, it does keep you from using plastic bags for your produce or your bulk beans.)

How many plastic bags come into your house each week– and how far are you willing to go to reduce your bag consumption? Would a bag ban make you change your ways or would you not even notice?