Over the years, I’ve become a ‘bring-your-own-bag’ kinda girl. I can hardly remember a time when I didn’t bring my own bags to the grocery store. For me, the hardest thing about using them is remembering to bring them into the store—I know I’m not the only one who has had to run back to the car because I forgot them, right?
So it surprises me each week when I see people who don’t bring their own bags to the store. Canadians use 9-15 billion plastic shopping bags every year—but why? Reusable bags save money, they are healthier for the planet, and they are safer for wildlife, so why not?
Here are nine facts about plastic bags to consider:
1. Plastic bags may never completely decompose. This means that as long as the earth is around, so will that plastic bag you used to hold your purchases last week.
2. Plastic bags (and all plastic products) contribute to “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch” swirling around in the Pacific Ocean. This large mass of plastic waste is harmful to both us and to marine life.
3. Plastic bags are also harmful to land animals and birds.
4. Plastic bags are made with petroleum, a non-renewable resource.
5. Some grocery stores offer biodegradable plastic bags for a small fee, but research has found that those bags may not break down a easily as we think they do.
6. If you don’t use the plastic bags from the grocery store, but choose to use their paper bags instead, it’s important to know that paper bags are not necessarily better than plastic.
7. Reusable bags can be found everywhere, so you won’t have a problem buying a few. If you are handy with your sewing machine, you can even make your own. Note that all reusable bags are not created equal. Some contain large amounts of plastic and non-recyclable materials (which actually defeats their purpose!), so be sure that the bags you purchase are made from 100% recyclable materials.
8. Don’t forget reusable produce bags. Plastic produce bags are no better than plastic shopping bags.
9. If you do have plastic bags around the house, find a plastic bag recycling drop off point in your city and drop them off!
And finally, please take a look at this "mockumentary" about the plastic bag. It's a little silly, but it definitely gets the point across!
Will you use reusable bags the next time you go shopping?