At Safeway today, I noticed that I was the only person with reusable bags. Why? Why are Americans still using plastic bags? South Africa and China have banned the super thin plastic bags. Why are we clinging to our plastic bags?
In August 2009, Seattleites are voting on the issue of “taxing” plastic bags 20 cents. A vote? Are there people, other than the American Chemistry Council, who don’t know the plastic bag story? Maybe. Here are some things to consider:
- Plastic bags are made from a non-renewable resource called petroleum.
- Plastic bags take between 450-1000 years to begin decomposing.
- Only 1-2% of plastic bags are recycled. The Worldwatch Institute estimates that Americans throw away 100 billion polyethylene plastic bags per year.
- Plastic bags are a litter nightmare. Because plastic bags are light weight, they fly in the wind, float in our rivers and oceans, and get tangled up in trees and animals.
- It costs more to recycle plastic bags then to create new ones.
- In March 2007, San Francisco banned plastic bags in grocery stores. A year later, the ban translated into 5 million fewer plastic bags every month.
What can you do?
I’m glad you asked.
- Use reusable bags whenever you go shopping – all stores, not just the grocery store.
- Store your bags in your car. This way you’ll always have bags with you.
- If you forget your bags buy more reusable bags, or ask for paper and stuff the bag full.
- Say “no thank you” when a plastic bag is offered.
- Recycle or reuse your plastic bags. If your recycle center doesn’t take plastic bags, return them to your grocery store.
- Encourage your family and friends to use reusable bags. Give cool reusable bags as gifts.
- Bring an extra reusable bag to the grocery store and give it to someone who doesn’t have one.
- Talk to your grocery store manager about promoting reusable bags.
- Seattleites: vote yes on Referendum 1 in August 2009. Volunteer or donate to the Green Bag Campaign.
Could plastic grocery bags become obsolete? Absolutely. Keep your reusable bags in your car or by the door and train yourself to remember them. You don’t forget to bring money to the store, so why forget your bags? You can do it!