It’s Earth Day, so it’s time for a public service announcement. This is no “holier than thou,” tree-hugger BS — just a little something you can do to reduce waste. In particular, those plastic bags that end up tangled in tree branches or filling cow’s stomachs or littering the side of the highway or floating in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. You can do whatever you want, of course, but it’s quite likely that more place are going to eventually adopt something like Washington DC’s tax on plastic shopping bags. Consider getting out ahead of the curve.
Sometime in February I decided to try using as few plastic bags as I could. I don’t know why I decided then, it just seemed like it was time. In my mind it sounded easy enough — after all, we’ve been using them for grocery shopping for more than a year. It wasn’t quite as effortless as I had imagined, but it wasn’t very difficult either. And it has worked, too. We only have a couple disposable bags left in the house for our recycling and cleaning up after the kitty.
So what have I learned?
- The flat bottom nylon fabric bags are where it’s at. They cost about $1. They’re really sturdy. You can put 20 pounds of whatnot in them, they won’t tip over in the trunk or on the counter, and you don’t have to worry about pulling off the handles. And I think they’re easier to fill than other kinds of reusable sacks.
- If the bags aren’t with you, they won’t do you any good. Keep at least one in each car. Getting them back into the car from the house. . . . oy!
- A family of two needs 3-4 bags to shop at the supermarket for 1-2 weeks.
- When you’re sending your groceries down the belt, try to group the things you want in the same bag. (For example, send all of the cold things together.)
- Cashiers/baggers are all pretty accustomed to reusable bags; but I find that you have to give the bags to them first thing, otherwise they default to plastic.
- If you’re going to multiple stores (other than the grocery store), you don’t need one bag for each store. I’ve found that I can usually get by with two or so: one for the store I’m visiting and one (or more) that I keep in the car and transfer the stuff I just bought into. This leaves me with an empty bag for the next store, and fewer half-empty bags when I get home.
Well, that’s probably enough more-or-less obvious ramblings about how to use a shopping bag. Now just go and do it.