Monday, March 03, 2008

Just say Plastic

In my attempt to lessen my footprint on the earth I find myself hindered in some aspects.

I don't own my home so there is little I can do to implement energy saving techniques there. I can replace bulbs (I have), put lights on timers (done), turn things off/ unplug (check), use a programmable thermostat set at lower temps during the day and night (done) and use motion sensor lights (in back). In a perfect world I would have a wind generator, solar, change out the lawn for something that uses less water, add more insulation and change out the water heater and other appliances for ones that are more efficient.

One very simple change that I can do: stop using plastic shopping bags.
Currently I carry a folding shopping bag from Byerlys/ Lunds that I purchased for $1.50 and one of my cotton market bags in my purse. If I forget one of these bags I will use paper (which isn't much better), or put my purchases in my tote/ purse or carry them out (which is what I did at Target Sunday).

FYI: I have used my Cub canvas bag at Rainbow, my Byerly's canvas bag at Trader Joes and Kowalskis and my knitted market bags everywhere and no one has refused to use them. The Trader Joe guy even remarked "Cool bag! But it has the wrong name." with a smile and a laugh when I handed over the Byerly's bag last week. I always get a compliment on my handknit market bags and that always makes my day.

This site has a lot of products from lunch bags, shopping bags, produce bags, etc. There is a excellent resource for where to recycle plastic shopping bags in the Twin Cities on this site. This article has a good argument for using canvas instead of plastic. It's a really simple choice and I'm going to focus on seeing what other choices I can make throughout the year.


Ragnar said...

One of our local health food stores just got these new "enviornmentally friendly" plastic bags. They are green, because everyone knows that green things are better for the planet, and they have this self bulls*it propaganda about how "Green" they are on them. In fact I have one right here (full of dirty diapers...I'm reusing! I swear!).

Here's what it says, and then my interpretation of what that means.

I am made from recycled materials. I am made from at least 30% post-industrial waste.

First of all you are a plastic bag so lets dispense with the "I." Secondly, post-industrial waste is not recycling, since I'm pretty sure that most factories are selling their "waste" anyway, so this isn't lessening the landfill problem. It's post CONSUMER waste that's the biggie.

I reduce road traffic. One truck can carry 2 million bags like me. Seven trucks are needed to carry 1 million paper sacks.

Okay, this is something that I hadn't thought of...but still seems like you're reaching.

I'm cleaner. Producing me generates fewer pollutants than producing paper bags: 70% less air pollutants and only 2% of the water polutants.

I will certainly think of that the next time I pick up a littered plastic bag which is almost everytime I walk somewhere. In other words. YOU ARE POLLUTION!

I use less energy. Making me involves a quarter of the energy used for a paper bag.

Whatever, (no snappy come back for that one...).

I help save trees. My material is created from plentiful natural gas rather than ever more valuable trees or oil.

This is the one that really pisses me off. Plentiful natural gas. least trees grow!! Natural gas is still a non renewable natural resource...there's a lot of it now because we've just started exploiting it. Grrr.

and last but not least:

I help in landfills. I'm light and I take up much less space than a paper bag.

Again, this one really gets me. YES, for now! But what about in a couple of years when you are still around, but that paper bag is totally disintegrated. Grrr.

Sorry to take up all your comment space, but I see this bag 10 time a day (because I'm putting dirty diapers in it) and every time I get just a little bit pissed.

And yes, I have a stash of canvas bags that I haul around with me. I even have a couple of fancy washale "wet" bags for my diapers, but alas not enough to keep up with the never ending tide. Note to self...make more fancy wet bags so you don't have to look at this obnoxious "green" bag.

And whenever we (my family) check out we say "We don't need a bag." and the clerk still puts whatever it is in a bag. "No really we don't need a bag." "What? Huh? Are you sure."


Liz said...

No worries, fill away! LOL! I think it's good to examine what "environmentally friendly" really means, and especially what it means to each of us. To me it means looking at how I can reuse and reduce every day.
(Agreed the propoganda on the bags you referrenced is really reaching....)

Constanza said...

One reason I'm putting off grocery shopping until tomorrow is that I did not bring my reusable bags with me today.

Bunny Queen said...

Something I recently learned on the recycling front: if you use sticky notes, use any color but yellow. For some reason, yellow stickies are significantly more difficult to recycle than the other colors.

One of the things I *love* about my canvas bags is that they have longer straps and I can carry them over my shoulder comfortably. If I pack groceries relatively carefully I can sling a bag or two over my shoulder and then carry the bag with the crushable stuff in my hand. It's also kind of fun (in a twisted way) to watch the folks bagging groceries be completely befuddled by what to do with this "odd" bag. ;)

Iohanna Carracci said...

Woodmans in Madison recently started selling reusable fabric bags for grocery shopping. It warmed my heart last time I went shopping to see almost everyone loading up their groceries in the fabric bags.

I have a ton of reusable bags (of various materials) - I use them all, it doesn't seem to matter how many I get. My favorite reusable bag is made from recycled trash from Indonesia and has the added bonus of being sewn by a woman who was learning a craft so that she could support her young family.

caillie said...

I usually use them to store recyclables in the house then take them out to the container and for cat litter when cleaning cat boxes. It makes the whole job a little bit better (?) HAHA
I take them to Goodwill or Savers and they re-use them for their customers. If they have big holes or there is no other way to re-use them I put them all together in my recylcing bin. I too try to do my best to reduce my foot-print. I even try to dig out recyclables of the garbage at work. Just doing my little part.

Anonymous said...

I have three reusable bags. A rainbow, a target and plain green one. I take all three with me when I go grocery shopping.

I use the target bag as an everyday tote because it is cute and if I pop into a store I have one ready.

On the home front, we have changed everything that we can too since we currently rent. We are using our few remaining plastic bags for cat litter. I really wish there was a better way to get rid of used litter.
As for our purchased items, we try not to get many things in plastic but it is rather hard to do. Purhaps we should all suggest to the "green" companies they need to put their product in glass.