Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Evil Plastic Grocery Bags

Quite a few years ago I happened to catch a short film on PBS about ways to create less waste. It really stuck with me because it is so easy to do and over the course of a life-time we can all effect how much waste is created and even cut down on the production of plastic bottles, bags, and other containers.

Two of the consumer products that annoy me the most are water bottles, especially those little ones – are they a pint? – and plastic grocery bags. They are prolific in our society, and most likely used once and tossed into the landfill for all eternity. I go out of my way to bring my repurposed convention tote bags to the grocery store (and I like the 5 cent refund). But I often get caught w/o a bag if I drop in on the way home from work or if I happen to be walking by. I grit my teeth as the cashier double-bags my two items, knowing the bags will soon be at my house looking for a new use. I have grappled w/keeping a plastic bag or two with me but they are not easily stuffed in my bag along with my wallet, bus pass, knitting needles, umbrella, and other assorted items.

But I had a brainstorm the other day. I thought, I need a small container to stuff a bag into, something I can reuse. Et viola, I found two perfect containers. On the left is a mint container and on the right, a pill container.

I also prefer this to recycling because I don’t really trust that the grocery store is recycling the plastic bags that get returned and by reusing them, the store is using fewer and will then in turn buy fewer so the manufacturer will produce fewer bags. This is also in accordance with the waste hierarchy, something I did not know existed until about 10 minutes ago.

One other tip the film gave, that I use every day, is to use less. For example, the next time you are squeezing shampoo into your hand, use half the amount you normally use. If that was enough suds, use half the amount of shampoo the next time, and the next time, until it was not enough and go back to the amount you used the day before. Over the course of your life you will throw away fewer bottles and also purchase fewer bottles, saving money and creating less waste. This can be applied to soap, conditioner, cleaning products, toothpaste, hair styling products, and so many more things that we use every day.

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