Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Live, Eat, Shop, REUSE

"Would you like paper or plastic?"
"Umm...neither!" has been my answer recently. One day as I was patiently waiting for the cashier to scan my goodies at The Fresh Market, I spied a trendy looking, reusable grocery bag. I mean, how smart is that? I quickly snatched one up and added it to my loot. At under $1, it was a bargain. Plus, who could resist the cute carrot graphic on the front? Now I wish that I had bought more, because the particular Fresh Market that I frequent hasn't gotten anymore in.

After some additional research, I found out exactly how bad plastic bags are for the environment. I've always been one to recycle, especially after purchasing our first home and having the option to put a recycling bin next to the curb every Sunday night. I have no excuse now...just toss the assorted cola cans, plastic bottles, cereal boxes, etc. in a bin and someone comes to collect the contents every week. It makes me feel good to do a little something extra for the environment. It may not be much, but all the little acts people do add up!!!

The purpose of this post is to try to persuade you to buy a reusable grocery bag...or two, or three, or ten!...and use them!

One problem I have is simply remembering to take the bag with me. I've solved this problem by keeping it in the back of my car (most of the time). I've found that even though it has a Fresh Market logo on it, other grocery stores don't seem to mind. In fact, the bag boy at Winn-Dixie made the comment the other day that he wished more people would use them. Apparently they make it easier to bag all the items.

So why not? Why not buy a reusable grocery bag? I really can't think of a good reason. Mine folds easily and fits right down into my purse. I pull it out at the register and say "fit as much as you can in it!" I need to buy a few more...that's definitely on my to-do list. After all, I only have one. The Fresh Market is supposedly going to get some new bags in stock with sunflowers on them...let's hope those come in soon!
Did you know:
* The average American uses between 300 and 700 plastic bags per year.
* Each time you use a reuseable grocery bag, you save 4 plastic bags, on average!
* Single-use bags made of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) are the main culprit. Once brought into existence to tote your purchases, they'll accumulate and persist on our planet for up to 1,000 years.
Photo courtesy of

Why Use Cloth Shopping Bags?
- Plastic bags, first introduced in 1977, now account for four out of every five bags handed out at grocery stores.

- Plastic bags tend to "fly away" out of cars, trashcans, and landfills, littering our roadways, land and sea. In fact, did you know that plastic bags are the fifth most collected item during coastal clean-ups? Yuck.

- Most plastic bags are made from polyethylene, which is made from crude oil and natural gas, nonrenewable resources. The US alone uses about 12 million barrels of oil every year just to keep up with the demand for plastic bags (current annual demand tops out at about 100 billion bags).

Photo courtesy of

Sounds like paper bags are the favored option, right? Read on:
- The US will cut down 14 million trees each year to satisfy our demand for paper grocery bags.

- 2000 plastic bags weigh 30 pounds while 2000 paper bags weigh 280 pounds. So it requires a lot more fossil fuel to transport paper.

- In the landfill, paper bags generate 70 percent more air and 50 times more water pollutants than plastic bags.

- It takes more than four times as much energy to manufacture a paper bag as it does to manufacture a plastic bag.

- Energy required to produce bags (in British thermal units): Plastic bags: 594 BTU; Paper bags: 2511 BTU.

- Research from the year 2000 shows 20 percent of paper bags were recycled, while one percent of plastic bags were recycled. Quite frankly, both of these numbers stink.

Photo courtesy of

- Current research demonstrates that paper in today's landfills does not degrade or break down at a substantially faster rate than plastic does. In fact, a lack of water, light, oxygen, and other elements that are necessary for the degradation process inhibit complete degradability.
Statistics from

"Using reusable grocery bags is simple. It's easy to "BYOB"; keep a few cloth grocery bags in your car and a few by the front door. Just one cloth bag, during the course of its long and prosperous lifetime, will eliminate the need for more than 1000 plastic bags!

So just think how many trees and resources you'll save by utilizing just one bag let alone a four-pack of them.While any old bag will do to help stop the unnecessary waste of disposable grocery bags, utilizing tote bags made from 100% cotton, a renewable resource, is best. There are many reusable cloth bag options available, including recycled cotton, organic cotton, and natural hemp. But experts agree that using any reusable cloth grocery bag will do the trick."

Photo courtesy of

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Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this! I just bought my first reusable grocery bag last time I was at Whole Foods. I hope these will eventually become the norm and not the exception!

Jen said...

Kudos to you! I only purchased one canvas bag from the grocery store. I looked around my house and discovered I had other tote bags that I could use grocery shopping. Look around your might find something you could use too. :)

Deborah said...

I have a reusable bag that is made from nylon, and it folds up conveniently and has a little bag it goes in. It fits perfectly in my purse, so I always have it with me! The great thing about it, too, is that it is large enough so that it can fit probably 3 plastic bags worth of groceries in it. And my grocery store gives a 5 cent credit for every one of your own bags that you bring in. You should check them out - - I totally love mine!

Emiline said...

I like the bag!

And yes, don't forget to bring it into the store!