This post is in honor of Factory Direct Promo’s blog carnival: “Give the gift of a Plastic-Free World This Holiday and Join the Plastic Bag Ban Movement!”
Before I tell you my plastic bag story, I would like to send a huge Thank You to Shane Shirley Smith for asking me to be a part of this incredible event! I am truly grateful for all that Shane does, so please check her out over at Environment Booty, her blog, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest!
Also, be sure to check out Factory Direct Promo’s new Plastic Bag Ban Map!
My Plastic Bag Story
Over eight years ago, I took to strongly refusing plastic (and paper) bags. I was aware of the garbage patches choking the sea life in our oceans, I could see plastic bags blowing around my community more often than not (often times decorating tree branches or hovering over head and out of reach in the wind) because even though many plastic bags are thrown away, they are so aerodynamic that they tend to not stay in one’s garbage can, and even though I deposited my used plastic bags in my local participating grocery store’s plastic bag recycling bin (before my reusable bag days), I still suffered from a great deal of guilt because of all the wasted petroleum that I was directly responsible for when using disposable bags just for my convince. Even though I was refusing plastic bags during the time of the BP oil spill in the Gulf, my plastic guilt increased tenfold because of the other plastic items in my life (Beth Terry has been instrumental in reducing both my guilt as well as my plastic consumption).
My Plastic Guilt
Nonetheless, during the days I struggled with plastic-bag guilt, I loved how IKEA charged a bag fee for every plastic bag each consumer used many years ago. I loved that choosing convince had a financial cost and that that cost was then donated to an environmental charity. Later, IKEA stopped offering plastic bags of which was even better in my opinion, but overall, I loved watching the steps taken to reduce plastic consumption in IKEA stores as I kept telling my husband that IKEA’s model needs to be taken nationwide, or better yet, worldwide. During that time in 2003/2004, I soon learned that IKEA’s model was in fact happening in Bangladesh, Ireland, Switzerland, and many other countries. Now, we need to get the entire U.S. onboard! Check out Plastic Bag Ban Map to see the progress made thus far.
I believe that if our country started with a tax and then moved to a plastic bag ban, we would stop Americans from using 100 billion plastic bags per year, and of those 100 billion bags, it is said that less than 10% are recycled leaving the remaining 90 billion bags to pollute our planet each year like a self inflicted oil spill that is choking life as we know it. According to Salon, a study done over five years ago “found that the inks and colorants used on some bags contain lead, a toxin. Every year, Americans throw away some 100 billion plastic bags after they’ve been used to transport a prescription home from the drugstore or a quart of milk from the grocery store. It’s equivalent to dumping nearly 12 million barrels of oil.” Let’s cleanup our self-inflicted oil spill by refusing plastic!
Knowing that 1 million plastic bags are being used per minute and that “The U.S. goes through 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually at an estimated cost to retailers of $4 billion” (The Wall Street Journal) should also inspire us all take take great action.
Nevertheless, that plastic bag guilt lead me to www.reusablebags.com (now www.reuseit.com) where I found my beloved Cart Helper. The first two Cart Helpers that I purchased over eight years ago are still lugging my produce, groceries and other purchases home during each shopping trip.
Greg and I both have a supply of reusable bags in our cars, and if we happen to forget our reusable bags, we still refuse disposable ones. I either load small items in my purse (this causes my to keep the receipt of which also causes me another dilemma because sales receipts contain BPA and I try to refuse receipts at all cost, but that’s a topic for another day) or I reload my items back into my cart causing me more of an inconvenience that is a huge motivator to not forget my bags again.
Household Trash and Recyclables
As for my kitchen trash, I have a compost bucket complete with a lid to keep critters out outside my back door (I mix my kitchen scraps into my compost pile out back several times a week), I also have a small recycling station under my sink and a larger recycling station in my garage.
My under-the-sink recycling station includes bins for paper, plastic, metal, glass and plastic bags (I cut off the zip lock off the plastic bags so that the plastic bag can be recycled).
My garage recycling station contains larger bins for the above items as well as bins for light bulbs, batteries, electronics, etc. Check out this post of me and my girls recycling our old broken computers.
After reading Beth Terry‘s eye-opening book Plastic Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too, I became well aware of the ins and outs of the toxins in plastics, that recycling plastics is not as environmental friendly nor is as answer solving as I had once thought, plus tons more new information as well as completely easy and doable solutions and tips to help me reduce my plastic consumption and my petroleum footprint.
Needless to say, choosing and demanding non-plastic items and packaging is what I try to focus on at all times. However, I haven’t figured out how to buy grapes without the accompanying plastic bag as of yet (grapes are a staple in my girls school snacks when their favorite fruits are out of season during the winter months here in South Jersey), and yet again, I ask myself, “What would Beth Terry do?” She would choose another fruit, and this week, that’s what we do more times than not. Today, my girls left for school with organic Fuji apples in place of their grapes. All is well and plastic free for today!
Recycling aside, when my family and I need a trash bags, we use BioBags. I use the Tall Kitchen BioBags for our household trash and I keep the smaller Food Waste BioBags in my purse so that I can collect trash while walking on the beach or playing in the park. I also use the smaller BioBags to collect trash in the car during long road trips.
Until there is great change as far as plastic bags are concerned, we all can continue doing are part to reduce our plastic bag consumption.
How do you reduce your plastic bag consumption?
Also, when plastic bags sneak into your life either when buying grapes or when receiving a package from Amazon (those strips of plastic balloons), do you have a plastic bag drop-off center at a participating grocery store?
Much Love! Priscilla