There’s one sure way to beat the paper vs. plastic debate: refuse the store’s bag and bring your own.
Canadians take home over 55 million plastic shopping bags every week. Lightweight and strong, these bags have become a regular part of our shopping experience. They also are part of a litter problem, where bags end up in places Mother Nature didn’t intend. In short, that easy solution to bringing home the milk is also wrecking our environment.
Dealing with our environmental baggage
Today’s bag is likely tomorrow’s garbage. Consider the life of the bag:
- Non-renewable beginnings – Plastic bags are made out of “film”, or thin flexible sheets of plastic, which are derived from petroleum or natural gas. The finished bag may be marked with the triangular “chasing arrows” symbol which contains a number, often 2, and sometimes the acronym for high-density polyethylene, or HDPE. The symbol only indicates the type of plastic or resin; it is not a recycling symbol.
- Urban tumbleweed – Empty bags get carried on the wind, ultimately ending up in trees and blocking sewer drains.
- Keeps on going – The properties that make plastic bags durable also make them virtually indestructible. Once in the environment, they don’t readily break down. Your grandchildren could find a bag you discarded.
- Gets dumped – Though we all think we recycle, Canadians send almost three-quarters of their garbage to landfills. For those who actively recycle, not all municipalities accept their plastic bags. So millions of bags are likely to end up in the dump, even allowing for the repeated uses in the home.
- Marine trash – When introduced to the ocean habitat, marine animals such as fish, dolphins, whales, seals, and birds are harmed because they become entangled or mistake plastic debris for food.
Reusable bags are the ultimate practicality
Rather than accept a shopping bag made from non-renewable resources, bring your own reusable bag and refuse the shopping bag from the store.
The advantages are straightforward:
- Less packaging overall
- Less plastic clutter that can harm wildlife habitats
- Reduction in waste going to municipal landfills
Today’s reusable bag comes in a range of materials and sizes. Many food retailers now offer them for sale along with heavy plastic totes that not only handle groceries, but come in handy for many household chores. You also can find string-style bags, sometimes made with organic cotton or hemp, that collapse into a small space in your purse, backpack or computer bag.
Be sure to select the reusable sac or tote that is easiest to carry and is washable.
Check: keys, wallet, reusable bag
Like any new habit, it takes a bit of effort to remember your reusable bags.
- Try putting your empty bags back in the car after you unload your purchases, or leave them on a hook by the door or with your bus pass or car keys.
- Ask your kids to remind you.
Consider these tips from the reusable bag pros:
- Think twice about taking a plastic bag if your purchase is small and easy to carry.
- Keep reusable cloth bags in your home, office, and car so you always have them available when you go to the supermarket or other stores.
- Ask your favourite stores to stop providing bags for free, or to offer a discount for not using the bags. Thank those retailers who already do.
More bagging tips
- A new view on dog poo – While trapping Fido’s output in a reused plastic shopping bag may be easier on the owner, it creates an ever growing landfill problem. Make a reusable scoop from an old detergent bottle and put the remains in your toilet. Dog composting kits are also available from specialty retailers. Be sure to wash your hands after your dog duties.
- Stop bagging small amounts of produce – Since you’ll wash the two lemons or four apples when you get home, skip the extra plastic. The food made it this far; it will survive the journey home in your reusable bag.
- Hey, I use that bag for trash – No problem. Biodegradable trash bags are readily available across Canada.
Looking for a truly “green” way to make your business more environmentally friendly? Consider ICEGREEN Reusable Bags and Packaging Products.
About ICEGREEN Reusable Bags:
Ice Green is one of the largest manufacturers of lead free and contaminant-free reusable bags, and custom reusable bags in North America, serving a wide variety of businesses and industries both small and large (Beverage Companies, Grocery Stores, Hotels, Pharmaceuticals and much more.) With distribution centers across North America and factories as far away as China (ISO-9001-2000-certified), we regularly manufacture and ship around the globe. And, as the manufacturer, you’re dealing directly with us, saving you time and money. Looking for the best in lead free reusable bags? Contact ICEGREEN today