Last November for my birthday my dear friend Lisa mailed me a shopping bag for a gift. An odd choice for a gift, I know, but it has turned out to be one of the most-used gifts I’ve ever received (thanks Lisa!).
The bag wasn’t just any old shopping bag. She sent me a reusable shopping bag from Granite Gear. To be honest, when I first opened the gift I wasn’t sure how much I’d use it. I’ve been taking my own bags to the grocery store for years so didn’t think I had a need for another reusable shopping bag.
Boy was I wrong. This bag is amazing.
First of all, it’s super lightweight. I weighed it on my postal scale and it came up at a measly 1.7 ounces, less than my cell phone. Secondly it is incredibly compact. It stuffs into its own attached mini-sack at about 4×4 inches but it can be crushed even smaller in the corners of your purse or even your pocket. The best thing about it is how incredibly strong it is. It’s made of something called “sil-nylon,” which they might want to consider using on the next space shuttle it’s so sturdy. When fully open the bag is a little bigger than your typical grocery store plastic bag but it holds the contents of 3-4 plastic grocery bags simply because it’s so tough. I keep it in my purse all the time and I no longer take plastic bags from anywhere – not Target, not the grocery store, nowhere. I even had the rare opportunity to go clothes shopping yesterday and bought items from 5 different stores. Everything fit into the one Granite Gear bag, saving five plastic bags just in the one trip.
According to the site www.reusablebags.com, 1 million plastic shopping bags are used per minute, which translates to 500 billion per year. Almost all are used once and thrown away. Ireland, Denmark, China and South Africa already have policies requiring retailers to charge shoppers for single-use plastic bags and Britian and Australia are moving in that direction. San Francisco has banned them city-wide altogether. These landmark legislative moves save countless barrels of oil (the bags are made from petroleum) plus cut back on litter, reduce pressure on landfills, and improve air quality (see below).
So we all agree plastic bags aren’t good for the environment. But what does cutting out plastic bags have to do with Everyday Just Living? When the planet is harmed, inevitably people are harmed, and that is definitely the case with the billions of plastic bags floating around our planet. You may have seen big bins in your grocery store collecting plastic bags to “recycle.” If you’re one of the few people who actually take your bags back to be recycled, you should know the truth: most of these bags do not get recycled. According to reusablebags.com, they are shipped to developing countries with more relaxed environmental laws, like India or China, where they are incinerated, adding to the already tremendous problem of air pollution in these countries. It is unjust that my need for a one-time use bag would contribute to pollution on the other side of the planet.
I did some unscientific calculations and I estimate that, by taking my own bags to the grocery store and using my Granite Gear bag for everything else (Target, clothes shopping, the farmers’ market), I reduce my consumption by a whopping 624 plastic bags per year. This has been an incredibly easy change for me to make for such a tremendous impact.
Join Me To Quit Cold Turkey
I am committing today to end my plastic bag use completely and I’d like to get blog readers to commit to do the same! If you’ll join me in this quest, post a comment here with your commitment. I’ll write another post on the topic soon and welcome your experiences with the challenge. If you’ve already made this commitment, post that here and tell us about your experience. Bah bye plastic…