Do you remember a few years back when the top grocery store chains started asking if you wanted paper or plastic bags as they were bagging your groceries? At the time, a lot of people started choosing plastic bags because they wanted to reduce the amount of wood pulp that was used for making these paper shopping bags.
I remember that a lot of us, myself included, felt like we were doing our part to help the environment by choosing plastic over paper. What we didn’t realize was that by switching from paper to plastic we would be creating an entirely new problem. This new problem is that plastic shopping bags are filling our landfills by the billions.
A very low percentage of these bags are actually recycled which means we’ve traded one problem for another by switching from paper to plastic. The real solution to this problem is to bring your own bags with you. Nearly all shopping chains have inexpensive bags that you can purchase that are reusable. These reusable shopping bags can be used hundreds, if not thousands of times, before they need to be replaced which is the ultimate solution to the “paper vs. plastic dilemma”.
What surprises me is that hardly anyone actually makes use of these reusable shopping bags because they don’t want to pay the money to buy them out of their pocket? Let me ask you this; how many times have you been carrying a bag of groceries out to your car when a flimsy plastic bag ripped open and all of your groceries smashed into the pavement? I lost a gallon of milk and a big jar of pickles like this just the other day because I wasn’t planning on shopping that day I left my reusable shopping bags at home.
Other than the fact that using a shopping bag that is reusable is the right thing to do, I can think of several good reasons for using them.
- I’ve already mentioned that the bags are much more durable than the flimsy plastic bags that we are accustomed to stuffing our groceries in.
- In addition to reusable bags being much more durable, they’re easier to carry because they have a soft cloth handle.
- Some of these bags are actually insulated so when you purchase items that need to stay cold such as ice cream or dairy products, there’s less of a chance of your groceries spoiling before you get home. This is a big deal for us because we live about 30 miles from town so anything we can do to keep the items that need to be refrigerated cold for longer is a good thing.
- Another thing that you are doing by reusing cloth shopping bags is you are sending a message to those who see you do this. The message that you’re sending is that you care about the environment and that you are willing to spend a couple of dollars for a reusable bag because taking care of the environment means that much to you. Leading by example can bring about radical change.
If you’re still using plastic shopping bags to bring your groceries home, I strongly encourage you to purchase a few of these reusable bags the next time you go shopping. If you can’t afford to purchase several at once, buy one or two every time you go shopping and eventually you’ll have accumulated plenty of them.
Remember, the responsibility of making the earth a better place for us all to live begins with you. The question is, are you prepared to fulfill your responsibility?
For more great tips on recycling, take a few minutes and read my article called: You Won’t Believe How Much Fun Freecycling Can Be!