Tuesday, April 3, 2012

3rd Step towards Sustainability: Reusable Grocery Bags

Today's step will round out our talk on reusable bags.

Reusable Grocery Bags

Reusable grocery bags are becoming more and more popular and in some states/counties you can now be charged for using plastic grocery bags. These reusable grocery bags replace the need for plastic grocery bags during your next shopping trip. They now come in a variety of colors, prints, and styles. You can get them insulated, with wine bottle pockets, with zippers, tons of bells and whistles! Some stores now give you a discount for using these bags as it saves them money on plastic bags.

Here's How It Helps: You guessed it! Using your own bags reduces the demand and use of plastic bags. It really is that simple. When you don't use as much plastic, less gets thrown away and less needs to be made. This saves landfills and factory waste. Even if you recycle your plastic bags, there's still an energy demand for recycling. If we simply require less plastic to be made, it won't be made. Your one little grocery trip might not seem like much, but each trip adds up. Then each year adds up. Then maybe your neighbor starts, then your kid's Sunday School teacher, and it snowballs from there.

Here's How To Do It: Buy a few bags to start. It's hard to tell how many you'll need. The reusable bags usually can hold quite a bit more than plastic bags. My Wal-mart black ones are pretty old and easily hold 6 two liters. You'll have to figure out how many you need based on how full you like your bags and how many you need for your typical grocery trips.  I also like to keep one in the car for those quick trips to the grocery store after work.

Cost: Bags will usually run about $1-5 each. I got a bunch of basic black ones from Wal-mart a few years ago for $1 that are still holding up well. My United green ones cost maybe $1.5 and the insulated one costed a little bit more, maybe $3. You'd be surprised how many you pick up for free too. The last few conferences I've been to have given them away for their goodie bags and my school gave you ones if you pre-ordered your textbooks. As I mentioned before, these bags will sometimes save you money as well. United gives a five cent discount per bag that's filled. It's not much, but it adds up.

That finishes off the reusable bags portion of the 22 steps towards sustainability. These first three are very easy adjustments to make, and you may have already made some of them. Next we're going to look at some common cleaning issues and ways we can make some greener changes without having to make major lifestyle changes!

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