I’m hoping everyone I know brings reusable shopping bags to the store. If I could get Daddy Guder (who hates all things new on principle) to adopt this policy and leave bags in his minivan (which he drives even though he no longer has any small children), you all should be doing it.
To help the individual push, cities and stores are getting involved. San Jose is the latest city to implement a bag ban, which went into effect on Sunday. The city bans retailers from handing out single-use plastic bags and requires shoppers to bring reusable bags or purchase a paper bag for 10 cents. San Jose is following in the footsteps of San Francisco, Portland, & D.C. which have already put bans or payment plans in place. There is a huge debate around whether plastic bags are causing immense destruction to the planet, or perhaps actually better for the environment. Again- it’s good to read both sides, and be critical of the ‘information’ presented. As I learned in grad school, a life-cycle assessment report can pretty much tell you whatever you want to hear.
I’m a firm believer in the reusable bag. Here’s why: Some reports claim that a reusable bag must be used 13 times before it’s footprint (based mainly on energy and water use) is the same of a single plastic bag. Well, I reuse my bags almost every day, much more than 13 times in the bag’s life. Other complaints include purchasing reusable bags from China where environmental standards are low. That’s why I like ChicoBag. In addition to making tons of sense for city dwellers that don’t want to carry around a bulky whole foods grocery bag, these fold-ups are made in the USA, the company encourages you to send your bags back for recycling when you’re done with them, and is nearly a ZERO waste facility (the average American contributes over 130 lbs of waste to a landfill per month – ChicoBag contributes less than 30!). Just fold it up and throw it in your purse so you’re ready for any purchase – groceries, that new shirt you’d been eying since Christmas that finally went on sale, or your new bike bell so that people will stop walking in the bicycle lane. You know, whatever you pick up on a regular basis. And the best part is they are completely washable! I’ve washed mine about 6 times and it is still in ship shape.
In addition to the eco-benefits of reusing, not purchasing paper or plastic sends a strong sign to the consumer product world that we want better, more sustainable products. YOU have a vote each time you buy something. It should feel powerful to use your consumer dollars; make sure you’re using them for good.
As I mentioned, stores are also getting involved. I walked by Area Kids in Manhattan and they have 3 huge signs on their front door letting customers know that they do not have shopping bags. You can buy a reusable bag for $8 or bring your own, period. How cool is that. The no-bag revolution is finally being tackled from all sides.
Let me know what you think in this whole debate!