Of course I've been hearing about the environmental ramifications of using paper and plastic bags (fills up our landfills, pollution, wasteful, etc. etc.) and I get it. But for some reason I just never did it until recently. What changed? I got a bag!
Would more people use cloth grocery bags if they had one? In NY as part of their campaign to be the greenest state in the U.S., they have designer bags for sale (like the one that says "I'm not a plastic bag" pictured in the photo above.)
For me the change came when my husband brought home a cloth bag. He brings home a lot of chotchkies, as he works in advertising. Most either just add to the clutter, get tossed in the trash, or I wear the free t-shirt as a night shirt to bed. Until recently when he brought home a Reuters cloth grocery bag. A light bulb went off - I can use that when I go to Trader Joe's so I don't have to get their paper bags.
We reuse the plastic bags we get from Whole Foods (for picking up after the dog, and wastebasket liners), but the paper bags we get from Trader Joe's are just piling up in our laundry room, making me feel guilty whenever I see them. As a mother of a 2 year old I feel a sense of responsibility to do the right thing.
So the next time my daughter and I went to Trader Joe's, we brought our cloth grocery bag. I was all proud of myself. Then the clerk asked, "Do you have another bag?" Okay so I need to get more bags - but it's a start!
In many counties (like Germany) you bring your own bag or you pay for one at the store. San Francisco recently banned plastic bags (the first city in the U.S. to do so). There's also a new California law that took effect on July 1, 2007, implementing a state wide plastic bag recycling program, as well as requiring stores in CA to set up an at-store recycling program for customers.
- Worldwide, between 500 billion and 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed each year.
- In the US, about 12 million barrels of oil and 14 million trees go to producing plastic and paper bags each year.
- California retailers distribute more than 19 billion plastic retail carryout bags annually. Less than 5 percent are currently recycled.
- Plastics bags are one of the 12 most commonly found items in coastal cleanups.