Thursday, February 19, 2015

TBT -- It's about those pesky plastic bags

Americans use approximately 100 billion plastic bags per year

For today's Throwback Thursday, we're revisiting a post from January 2013. This one is all about another passion of mine -- reusable bags. I see absolutely NO reason for anyone not to be using reusable bags on a regular basis. Even if you need an occasional plastic bag for trash, etc., most likely you don't need an endless stack of them. Why not try cutting your plastic bag usage in half at least? Just a thought.

Remember when the question was, "Paper or plastic?" Perhaps you're still asked the question. I want to challenge you to make that question completely unnecessary. How? By saying, "No bag, please," as soon as you're greeted at the check out line.

It took me awhile to get used to carrying bags with me into stores. But consistency led to habit and habit led to my feeling rather naked if I didn't have my reusable totes with me when I checked out in a store.

It started with grocery shopping. Like I said, it took me awhile to get used to this. Several times, as I was getting into a line at the grocery store, I realized I'd left my bags in the car. So I parked my cart off to the side and I went out to retrieve them. A couple of times, this was in the rain. Soon, I made sure not to leave them behind anymore. Now, the thought of being seen carrying a plastic bag from the store puts me in a cold sweat! It's like a minister being seen coming out of a porn shop. Green Grandma better have her reusable bags with her!

After I purchased some wonderful fold-up-and-snap cloth bags from Target and Kohls, I started stashing them in my purse. Always available.

PA State Store bags

I was thrilled when the Pennsylvania State Stores (where we buy our wine) started carrying reusable wine bags. I have 3 and use them all the time. They are perfect at the grocery store for keeping glass jars from clinking up against each other in the bag!

Then I discovered Envirosax bags. Oh my. These handy, dandy reusable sacks roll up to the size of a small fist. Super duper easy, and lightweight, to keep in a purse or coat pocket at all times.

Envirosax Wild Kingdom

A little while after the carry-your-own-bags trend started to catch on, the issue of bacteria and germs raised its ugly, but valid, head. You see, the standard reusable grocery bags do not hold up well to the washing machine. So buying fresh meat and produce creates a problem. Not even thinking, I was placing packages of chicken and pork into my bags. Of course, little bits of the meat juices were seeping out, and bacteria was having a party in the bottom of my bags. Or I was filling my bags with non-organic apples, laden with pesticides that was wearing off onto the sides of the bags. All-in-all, this was not a good situation. And it seems to be the battle cry of all those opposed to using reusable totes.

So, here are my solutions:

  • After you are done shopping, liberally spray the inside of your cloth shopping bags with a 50:50 solution of distilled white vinegar and water. This will kill the bacteria.
  • Slip meat into the thin plastic meat bags (yes, I'm advocating the use of a small amount of plastic if necessary).
  • Use washable produce bags.
  • Buy a supply of machine washable totes, like the ones I use from Envirosax, and throw them in the wash after each trip to the grocery store. This is my favorite tip. It's safe, easy and practical.
If you're like me, it might take some time to get into the habit of keeping bags on hand. But isn't it better to start now, before it becomes necessary to pass more laws regarding this issue? We don't have the laws here in Pennsylvania. And I'm hoping we never have to. 

Do your part and skip the single-use plastic bags. Do it for the earth, the wildlife and your fellow human beings. Or just do it because you're cool like that, right?


By the way, since I first posted this, I discovered my new FAVORITE reusable bag -- it's called the flip & tumble. I purchased mine from a wonderful little store in Lititz, PA called Heavenly Soaps and Scents, but you can buy them online here

Quite simply, they go from this:

to this:

Brillant! They are lightweight and small enough to stash a couple of them in your purse at one time. No more "I forgot my bag" excuses!

So, where are you in the Bring Your Own Bag journey?


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