The way you shop is changing
One thing is clear, the Covid pandemic has accelerated a plethora of new processes in day-to-day living. Putting a ban on single-use plastic bags is a big one. I remember not too long ago that no matter which store I frequented, I could always rely on getting my items bagged for me for easy transport. Not any more.
Do you remember the question the cashiers asked you at the checkout: 'do you want paper or plastic?' It was a broken record. At the time it was more of a personal choice of convenience rather than landfill prevention. Sometimes customers chose both, placing the paper inside the plastic bag.
Fewer, Better Bags
The under sink overflow of the shopping bags sometimes became overwhelming and inevitably bags got tossed without multiple uses just due to keeping things tidy.
That was back when most people didn't have a clue about what happens to things once they get tossed in the trash. The idea that landfills and oceans unfairly received tons and tons of plastic bag pollutants was unfathomable. Out of sight, out of mind.
Now we're much smarter. Awareness of the ocean life tragedies pop up in our feeds and we can't help but gasp at the torture our waste has on living things. The stomach contents of beached whales include pounds of plastic bags and other manmade debris. Turtles with plastic banding misshaping their shells and proper growth is devastating to see, especially knowing that we ignorantly caused this harm.
So what can we do to turn this destruction around?
There are lots of ways each of us can stop harming our environment, as individuals, families and communities. For one thing, you and I can stop using single-use plastic bags.
We produce 300 million tons of plastic each year worldwide, half of which is for single-use items according to the Natural Resources Defense Council @NRDC_ORG.
Next time you are off to the shops, bring a cloth reusable shopping bag that is machine washable and can be used for years to come. Cloth shopping bags are best because they last longer, can carry heavy items, are washable and are better for the environment.
What About Paper Bags?
Switching to paper bags isn't environmentally friendlier than plastic bags, as they contribute to deforestation and other climate issues.
Cloth grocery bags are smarter than the reusable bags you can find at your local grocery store. Store brand bags can tear after a few uses and because they're not cloth they're not meant to go into a washing machine, resulting in more work for you to clean them.
Store Brand Reusable Totes
Grocery chains offer cheap reusable bags because they're hoping that you keep buying new ones every few weeks or months. They have cute pictures, sayings and colorful designs to attract your eye, but in the end, are they truly helping the environment if you toss their bags in the trash throughout the year?
There are many reusable bags on the market these days. Amazon carries hundreds of options when you type in 'reusable grocery bags' in the search bar. There are an assortment of materials out there, as well as shapes to choose from. It can make your head spin. There's even a 'biodegradable plastic grocery bag' available.
Whichever reusable bag is best for you depends on how you use it. Do you stand them up in your cart and drop-in products as you shop? Do you ball them up and stuff them all in one bag to use at checkout? How much weight do you want the bag to hold (or that you can manage to carry)?
Makes You Feel Good
The bottom line is that you choose a reusable market tote rather than a plastic bag so it that way you can't really go wrong. And that is a great feeling!
Here are some BYOB (bring your own bag) options to ponder (and buy) for long-term, eco-friendly, sustainable use. Help reduce plastic use. Don't turn a blind eye to our marine life suffering from plastic waste. Diminish landfill bulge.
Santa Playa grocery bag made from organic hemp $147.99
Sea Bags Maine using recycled sailcloth $160 - $275
Bosisi Designs cotton grocery totes handmade by underserved women $64
Choose reusable cloth shopping bags!
You will feel good about doing your part to help reduce single-use plastic bags. By spending a little bit more money for the best quality products that will last for years.