Monday, November 12, 2012

BYOB: Bring Your Own Bag

There are some things I know without a doubt, many others I don't know at all, and others yet in which my guess is as good as the next guy's. One thing I do know is we live in a culture of waste, particularly of our resources. We are a disposable society. We waste water, paper, plastic, food and so much more. Did you know we have nearly depleted the helium reserves of the world? I'll cover that topic another time. For the moment the item in my cross-hairs is plastic, specifically polyethylene plastic bags; the kind used at grocery stores and other retailers. The kind you see overrunning our landfills, caught in the branches of trees, floundering in gutters and streams and parklands. They are harmful on all levels.

In the U.S. alone, we use polyethylene plastic bags at a rate of more than 1 million per minute... PER MINUTE!!! These plastic bags are the worst thing we can use to cart our goods to and from our destinations. We try to make ourselves feel better about using plastic bags by convincing ourselves we are saving trees (trees can be replanted and paper biodegrades quickly) or by reusing them several times before filling them up with trash and sending them to the landfill. Some of us do at least place them in the recycle bin which is better than the landfill, but less than 1% of these bags are recycled. Once a plastic bag enters the trash stream, it becomes a menace with a lasting legacy. 

Polyethylene plastic bags do not biodegrade. When exposed to the ultraviolet radiation of the sun they do breakdown, but only into smaller and smaller bits, eventually becoming microscopic granules, a process estimated to take from 10 to 100 years. These granules are building up in both our water and land environments, and ending up in the stomachs of wildlife, ultimately infiltrating every step of our food chain. Plastic is not one of the food groups for any form of life, and cannot be 'biodegraded' by any microorganism. I don't want to ingest them and neither should you nor our wildlife. 

I could go on about the scientific aspects of the harm this is causing now and into the future, but the bottom line is we need to stop using this type of plastic bag, or more precisely, single-use, disposable plastic bags of any kind. There are other choices. There are faux-plastic bags available, derived from agricultural waste, that are biodegradable and compostable. Paper bags are a better option, as they are compostable and they biodegrade within a matter of weeks. But the best choice of all is reusable bags.

Reusable bags come in a variety of materials. Most notably are canvas (cotton), polyester, and polypropylene. Many companies manufacture reusable bags from recycled materials including plastic bags and soda bottles. Companies, such as Chico Bags, have designed their product line for convenience, making bags very compact and easy to carry in a purse or pocket. Reusable bags can hold more weight than paper or plastic bags as well. Keep reusable bags in your car and get in the habit of opening your trunk before and after your visit to a store. One day soon it may not be an option.

Many local municipalities are beginning to pass laws banning the use of single-use plastic bags. Italy has banned them country-wide, while stores in other countries simply don't provide bags at all; customers are expected to bring their own. Ever shopped in an Aldi's? It's a German owned company, they get it, why don't we? It's a shame it takes the passing of a law to get people to do the right thing. Wouldn't it be nice if everyone would simply start being less wasteful? Reusable bags really are not that inconvenient, try it, you just might like it!

This bag I just may have to get or design my own with a bumblebee instead! 


  1. I think that this passed in LA, and hopefully they do this in Orange County soon. We have a collection of reusable bags and use them as much as we can.

  2. First off I would like to say superb blog! I had
    a quick question which I'd like to ask if you do not mind. I was interested to know how you center yourself and clear your head prior to writing. I have had a hard time clearing my thoughts in getting my ideas out. I truly do enjoy writing however it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are wasted simply just trying to figure out how to begin. Any ideas or tips? Appreciate it!

    Also visit my web-site ... Women on wheels

  3. I just could not leave your site before suggesting that I actually loved the usual info an individual provide for your guests?
    Is going to be back frequently in order to investigate cross-check new posts

    Feel free to visit my web blog; milf sex