Green Tip 2 - Sack the Bag


"It's time to sack the bag"! It's time to "sack" the bag the plastic grocery bag, that is.

In late March San Francisco became the first U.S. city to impose a ban on the use of plastic bags in supermarkets and large chain pharmacies. Berkley, Oakland, Reno are other U.S. cities ready to follow suit. Whole Foods Grocery Stores do not issue plastic bags. Taiwan, South Africa, Australia and Bangladesh are on the "bandwagon". Ireland has imposed a tax for the use of plastic bags with Massachusetts close behind.

What's up with the banning of the bags? For the last 50 years or so plastic has become increasingly widely used because it has been cheap to produce and purchase. Cheap from a dollar cost standpoint, costly from an environmental/health standpoint. Plastic, petroleum based, is a non-renewable resource (at some point we run out). An EPA report from 2001 says between 500 billion and a trillion plastic bags were consumed worldwide. Most bags end up in landfills, take up valuable space and take a very long time to decompose. While breaking down (from months to hundreds of years), toxic bits seep into the soil and water posing threats to animals and humans. Millions of bags become litter and are an eyesore.

This week's "green" tip is to start making steps towards using durable re-usable bags. It is a change in mind set, but behavioral change is necessary for our survival and the survival of our planet. Following are some easy and simple ways to ditch the plastic bag and convert to a more eco-friendly habit.

Collecting your durable reusable shopping bags:
1. Look around your home to see what bags you have.
My collection: An assortment of bags found and given to me over the last 10 years.

2. Don't have any at home, then:
a. Purchase one durable reusable bag from your local grocer each week (cost $3-$5). $3-$5 is too much to add to your grocery bill each week? Set a goal of purchasing 1 bag every 2 weeks. Within a few months you will have enough bags to pack all of your groceries.
b. Another way to find bags is to place an order at one of the following sites. You will find a huge variety of styles and sizes of bags and a wide spread of prices.

- (check this site out right away they give away free bags).
- (most environmentally friendly options for bags such as organic cottage bags and bags made out of recycled materials)
- (found under "picnic and totes" section)
- (has a very wide selection)
- (has gorgeous handmade artistically designed environmentally friendly organic cotton bags. A bit pricey but great for a birthday or Christmas present).

c. Make your own bag the most environmentally friendly way to get a bag is to make one out of worn clothing/material either yours or ragbag from thrift store. A great 4-H/craft project.

Any new habit takes practice to break old trends. Store your newly found reusable bags in the trunk of your car so they are always in reach when you are out. When you've got the groove down on bagging groceries in this new fangled fashion, then move on to using these bags for every other place you visit: pharmacy, department store, library, friend's house.

By making the simple changes above, you will begin to feel empowered knowing that you are helping pass on a healthier earth to all of our children.

Byline Bio: Gwen Corbett, owner of Bear's Den Cottages, Green Lodging
Helping Individuals and Businesses Go Green