Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Death by Grocery Bag

In the past two years I have noticed a trend at the grocery store. It is not just the long haired, Birkenstock, patchouli smelling types that bring canvas bags to carry their groceries out...it is the lady with the gold bracelets in a white tennis skirt...and the fella in the gray suite and red tie. I can't help but wonder why this sudden shift has occurred.

I would like to think that all these people have suddenly become passionate about the environment. Whatever the reason...this new trend is catching on fast and furious, and for that I am thrilled. I dare to say that is has become fashionable! Which is a good thing, because at my grocery store they don't even offer the paper or plastic option. They just start shoveling the stuff into plastic bags before I can get a word in edgewise.

At the store, I try to thwart the baggers attempts to bag my meat separately, and place my nail polish in its own tiny bag to then be dropped into another big bag. I have to be alert though, because more often than not they sneak more bags in that necessary.

First off, we all know they are made of plastic and that plastic sticks around in our landfills forever. The tricky thing about plastic bags is that unlike other types of trash they have the gift of flight which allows them to traipse along through the air and land more often than not in a body of water. According to the United Nations, there is 46,000 pieces of plastic litter afloat in every square mile of ocean.

Living in Florida most of my life, I grew up cutting plastic six pack holders into pieces before throwing them away. I was taught that they were notorious dolphin and turtle killers. It is estimated that over 1 million birds and 100,000 marine creatures die due to plastic strangulation or entrapment every year.

For me, aside from the environmental impact factor, the sheer annoyance of the accumulation of plastic bags in my cupboard is enough to make me bring a cloth bag. I tell myself I am going to use them as trash bags, or take them to be recycled...which I do when they get so unruly I can no longer close my cupboard door.

In all honesty, I do throw away the occasional bag with a tinge of guilt. In the USA alone with trash 100 billion plastic bags a year...that is the equivalent to flushing 12 million barrels of oil down the toilet. That takes gas guzzling to a whole new level. Definitely something to think about.

Good Life Quest # 7 / Shop Canvas
Next time you go to the grocery store bring a tote bag to lug your goods home plastic bag free. If you don't have a tote, most stores now sell cloth bags for $1. The bags they sell are large and are well designed for packing in lots of groceries.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Lovely Nan, I just want to thank you for bringing attention to the fact that plastic bags are, as you say, coming out of fashion and that people are making the simple decision to bring a canvas bag for their grocer necessities.

Here in New Zealand a majority of supermarkets charge you to use their plastic bags. There isn't even a paper bag option. The charge is $0.30 for one bag, I think. That has helped bring awareness about using plastic.

I myself use a canvas bag when I shop. Use to get the occasional plastic bags for rubbish disposal, but currently have too big of a bin for them to fit.