Thursday, October 9, 2008

let's get serious about reusable bags

Some staggering facts on the PLASTIC BAG issue.

*The United states Environmental Protection agency says that somewhere between 500 billion and one trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide each year. - National Geographic News, 2003

*Less than 1% of plastic bags are recycled!!!!!!!!! It costs more to recycle a plastic bag than to produce a new one. - Christian Science Monitor Newspaper

*In case you don't find the above paper scientific enough - An article I found on this topic from the Sierra Club states - "San Francisco is considering a 17 cent surcharge on both plastic bags and paper bags at major supermarkets to encourage shoppers to use their own cloth bags. A study by the City of San Francisco determined that 17 cents is what it costs to handle each discarded plastic bag." - Kay Bushnell, Sierra Club

*It costs $4000 to process and recycle a ton of plastic bags which can be sold on the commodities market for $32!!! - Jared Blumenfeld, Director of San Francisco Department of the Environment

A friend sent me this link about plastic bags this summer.
It was heart wrenching for me to watch. I realized how many plastic bags we, as a family, mindlessly use, how cashiers hand them over with very little thought. Once I realized how expensive it is to recycle them, I decided to do my part, and made a vow to stop using plastic bags, to stop taking plastic bags for merchandise from stores, and to start using reusable bags. I have about 20 reusables. I got them at Whole Foods Market in California and Wegmans in N.Y. They are everywhere, and usually only cost a dollar or so. I also found some smaller cloth bags to use for produce and bulk products at an ashram in California last year. They were a dollar each. I bought about 20 and now I wish I had bought double that. They are not available online. However I have looked online and there are plenty of places to buy reusable bags in all shapes and sizes. Here are two places to look into:

By the way, the same ashram was selling handmade products made from woven plastic this summer. (mostly handbags and baskets). People all over the country in this community are getting into the idea of using less, and recycling as much plastic as possible into usable items.

Now I am in the habit of using our new bags whenever we shop -- and I have gotten my sweet husband (Green Papa I call him) also in the habit. I have to remember to put the bags in our cars once we empty them. And sometimes once I am in a store if I forget the bags I have to go back to my car to retrieve them. But it's no biggie.

These bags I have are far sturdier than paper, and especially plastic.
We also have stopped using plastic bags for garbage in the house. We use paper in the kitchen and we don't line small trash cans anymore with plastic. We have considerably less waste each week. We compost so much now, and we have also cut down in buying products with excess packaging. We hardly buy plastic bottles anymore. Most of our recycling is glass and some is metal cans. We also have a lot of paper and cardboard, which is eventually shredded and helps make compost that is resold on our island. I also am composting our dryer lint and some of our paper. It feels so great to have so little waste each week to bring to the curb. Our family of five has less than most of our neighbors with smaller households.

Also our girls have new teachers this year and we have volunteered to recycle their paper from school, so each Friday they are sent home with a bag of paper for us to sort.

Every little bit each of us does makes a difference. The less we pollute the earth, the healthier it will be for all of us. Please forward this information to people who you think will care.

Here is is again:

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