Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Paper or Plastic? Bring Your Own

Here's my rant for the day: We should all bring our reusable bags on a regular basis when shopping for our groceries. There's no reason we can't keep our bags in our cars and use them when we shop. It might take time to create a habit, but it can be done. The oceans and landfills throughout the world are choked with the trash of a billion and one shopping trips. We can't keep going along this route. Eventually, we're going to hit a proverbial (or real) wall and end up with more trash than we know what to do with.

Single-use bags (paper or plastic) are so outdated, inefficient and wasteful that we--rumored to be the most intelligent species--should know better. Both require tremendous resources to create. Not only that, we are dropping so much plastic into the oceans, I'm afraid we're not going to have an ocean one day. Or if we do, it will be more like swimming in a saltwater Toys"R"Us.

Obviously it's not just plastic bags that are choking our oceans; it's all plastic. But I'm ranting about bags here, so we'll leave the discussion of other plastic for another time.

Need facts? Just Google "Pacific Gyre" or "The Great Pacific Garbage Patch" and watch the videos documenting our continual disregard of our planet's most precious resource. (Or see my previous post, Plastic Soup.) We've also got some good video links on our Environmental Sustainability page.

Paper bags are no better. They require a huge amount of resources for their production. A Washington Post article claimed that over 14 million trees are cut down annually to create paper bags.

I've just received an email from a longtime owner who's as frustrated as I am about the continual use of new paper and plastic bags. Sure, some are recycled, but that takes energy, time and money. Why not bring your own? Reuse over and over again. If you need trash bags for your kitchen, try using our Biobags. They're biodegradable, which means they'll break down in a landfill. We've got them in the paper and cleaning product section.

We have a bunch of great reusable bag options to choose from: 99 cent poly bags; Co-opportunity canvas bags; and Chico Bags are just some. Our One Bag at a Time poly bags (stocked at every register) are only 99 cents and they're from a company run by a longtime owner of our co-op.

It only takes a little practice; after that you'll be remembering your reusable bags for every shop. And the oceans and landfills will thank you.

So, here it is: Paper or Plastic?

Neither if we can help it.
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