To bag or not to bag – that is the question. This Waste Reduction Wednesday’s topic is asking the question – do I really need a bag? I was in line at Sprouts yesterday and the gentleman in front of me bought a single item. It was wrapped in paper and hand sized (a sandwich?). He paid and the gal at the checkout asked if he wanted a paper or plastic bag. I had to ask myself – do you really need that bag? It occurs to me that we can often ask ourselves that question, and the answer would often be no – we really don’t need it. Can you carry it in one or two hands? Maybe you bring your own bags to avoid using the disposable variety. I am a self confessed reusable bag person and I have been for years. There are many bag options these days – paper, plastic, paper with handles, canvas. They even has designer bags, folding bags, and bags with frames. If your house is like my house, sometimes you might even have a cat in a bag (my favorite!).
The most common questions I am asked about my choice to go the reusable bag route are:
- Ewwwww don’t they get all germy?
- Do you really remember them when you go to the store?
The answer to question one is yes and no. Yes they can get germy, but mine are washable and I wash them. (Caution – many out there these days have plastic coatings on the outside. It makes them more durable, but less washable.) The answer to question two is I keep them in the back of my car. That way all I have to do is remember to get them out before I walk inside.
Many cities and counties in California have banned plastic bags or introduced a surcharge for using them – San Diego is one of the few who has not taken this step to date. For a current list, follow this link: http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/Plastics/CarryoutBags/Ordinances.htm
It is hard to know how many plastic bags are used each year – estimates range from 700 million to several billion per year. Whatever the number, it’s a lot! Perhaps we are on our way to reducing that number.
Whether you choose to go the reusable bag route or not, at least you can ask yourself “do I really need a bag?” and save a few that way. Yes we can reuse all of them to some extent, and the plastic are recyclable and the paper are recyclable and compostable, but the reusable can be used over and over and over again. Some of the bags I have are more than 5 years old, so they do last.
Good luck to you on your waste reduction journey!
Reduce, reuse, recycle, compost!