Did you know it could take anywhere from 15 to 1000 years for a plastic bag to decompose? Wow! I didn't know that.
Experts say 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are used yearly. That is more than a million per minute. I just can't imagine all those sitting in some landfill. Plastic bags are so light weight that when they are in landfills they tend to fly away and get stuck in trees, drains, and litter our beaches. Reusable shopping bags can solve this problem and it's easy to do.
How Reusable Shopping Bags Can Help
The reusable shopping bags of today are not only practical but stylish. From "tree hugging" messages to modern abstract designs there is a bag out there for everyone. Plus, every time you use your reusable shopping bags that is one less (or even a dozen less) plastic bags being used and tossed. Even if you recycle your plastic shopping bags it still took energy and petroleum to create the one-use bags so why not eliminate your need to use them all together.
- Find one you love– Finding the right reusable shopping bag for you is important because you will use them more. There are all kinds out on the market these days. From cloth shopping bags to nylon. For me I have smaller ones for breads or things I don't want squashed. I also have some that are made of nylon that are easier to wash so I use those for meats that may leak. Then I have some heavy cloth shopping bags for canned goods and milk. Bottom line, find what you love and stick with it.
- Produce bag– Lightweight and make a great alternative to those plastic bags at the store. They weigh the same as the plastic bags so don't worry it doesn't add any extra weight to the produce. I personally have never used these but there are on my to buy list for sure.
- Make your bag accessible– Many reusable shopping bags can fold up so small they can fit in your purse, diaper bag, coat pocket, etc. Keep a stash in your car for the last minute stops or larger hauls. Leave a few on your coat hook by the door so you will see them when you walk out the door and grab what you need.
- Wash those bags– I use our bags for all sorts of things. A tote for carrying toys to Grandma's, carrying things to work, and craft projects. Juices from meat you carry also get on the bag and could carry e-coli. Most reusable shopping bags you can hand wash in the sink with anti-bacterial soap. I have thrown some of my cloth shopping bags in the laundry on gentle.
- Other Reusable Bags– Check out other bags that you can use to eliminate plastic bags. Lunch totes, sandwich bags, and snack bags.
Single-Use Plastic Bag Facts
Now that we know about the types of reusable shopping bags, have a few tips on remembering the bags, and even that there are bags for the produce isle – why is it so important to make the switch?
- An estimated 12 million barrels of oil is required to make the billions of plastic bags.
- Only 1 to 2% of plastic bags in the USA end up getting recycled.
- Thousands of marine animals and more than 1 million birds die each year as a result of plastic pollution.
- Americans consume more than 10 billion paper bags per year. Approximately 14 million trees are cut down every year for paper bag production.
- Paper production requires hundreds of thousands of gallons of water as well as toxic chemicals like sulphurous acid, which can lead to acid rain and water pollution.
April is often the month when most take a look at where they can make their home and community a little more green for Earth Day. This year how about taking that one day and making it last a lifetime through more sustainable changes. These can include switching your single-use shopping bag habit for reusable shopping bags, walking or biking more, shopping at local farmer markets, or even growing your own food.
So take a moment right now, pick out your favorite reusable shopping bags and gather all of your single-use plastic bags so the next time you head to the store you can drop them into the recycle bin.