Monday, July 21, 2008

Challenge #5: Shop…Drop the Plastic Bags

The plastic shopping bags in my pantry seem to multiple when the door is closed. Once they get to flood stage, I pack them up and toss them into the basement, thinking I will eventually use them for something. I recently went down there and collected a car trunk-worth and hauled them to the recycling box at the grocery store. That sealed it for me, I need to change my habit!

The Local Harvest Grocery here in St. Louis asks you if you need a bag, in a way that doesn’t insult you but seems more like a mindfulness mantra. I have carried into that store whatever bag I can find in my car, anything from a bag emblazoned with another store’s name to an empty gift bag, to save myself the guilt-trip.

The problem is, I always leave my canvas bags at home, then decide I need to stop at the store for a “few” items. I am going to gather up all the canvas bags I have and divide them between our two cars. When I come home and empty them, I will sit them by the door so that they get put back into the car the next time we go out, instead of stashing them in a closet where they will be forgotten. I found that I have amassed about 6 bags. I am also going to stash some paper bags with handles in each car and some of the closeted plastic bags, so that there are extra bags always available. I hope to not have an overflowing collection of plastic bags anymore!

I have also recently bought a big “purse” that is a cross between a canvas tote and a fashion accessory. I usually just carry my pocket-sized wallet, my keys and my cell phone in my hand, my pocket, or more likely, my husband’s pocket. I am now trying to be a “purse person.” I use this big cavernous “carry-all” if I am going to run a few errands. I can fit many small purchases in here without getting bags at each store. It is also big enough that I can carry a plastic bag in the bottom, for re-use. I can also carry a book, for when I am waiting at an appointment.

As the grocery stores have become more accustomed to their shopper’s use of canvas bags, they have even started selling reusable bags. Now, the biggest challenge for me will be to move this practice into my large, infrequent trips to buy household supplies.

Changing this habit will REDUCE the use of plastic and paper shopping bags and will REUSE canvas bags.

Take reusable bags to venues that are even less accustomed to them: like T@rget or the mall.



Patricia said...

I agree with you that we need to reduce our need for shopping bags. Most packers at the supermarket will either stuff the paper bags to the point that things need to be double bagged or give you each item in a separate plastic bag. (Except the tomatoes, they always go in the bag that has something with a sharp corner!) When I buy a small item I just stick it in my purse...

At the mall is even worse, I always get the speech: it is store policy that our merchandise cannot be put in another merchant's bag. I think they need to find better ways to advertise...

However, we reuse our plastic bags as trash bags for small trash cans (i.e. in the bathroom). This also reduces the need to buy small trash bags. (I've even reused the huge store bags in the kitchen trash can.) We also use them to contain messy trash that we don't want stinking up the house. Then we don't feel guilty about the double bagging.

thefencepost said...

My wife started doing this about a month ago, she has canvas bags in both our vehicles. I have heard that somewhere (can't remember where) they would charge you if you wanted plastic bags!

Love the blog, keep up the good work!