Plastic grocery sacks
Although you may not see a dramatic reduction in your grocery bill by using cloth bags, the environmental impact will be great. Several stores do give a 3- to 10-cent discount for using a reusable bag and every little bit of savings helps. I also find my reusable bags much easier to carry than paper or plastic.
The real benefit to using reusable bags can be seen in the environment, not in your budget. Reusablebags.com lists some shocking statistics on the number of plastic bags that are consumed each year: an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic worldwide! That equates to over one million per minute. I can’t even fathom that big of a number. Billions end up as litter each year. Because they catch wind so easily and blow away, hundreds of marine mammals and sea turtles die every year from eating plastic bags that they mistake for food. Even if they do end up in the dump, plastic bags do not biodegrade. Instead, they break down into tiny toxic bits that contaminate the soild and water and enter the food web when animals eat them.
As prevalent as they are, it is more than possible to live without plastic bags or at least reuse them before they end up as trash. As a last resort, tying a knot in each bag before throwing it away will prevent them from sailing away from the dump. However, may I encourage you to consider one of the following ideas instead?
Reduce: Use reusable bags at the store instead. Several options for reusable bags are available. Almost every store carries their own brand of reusable bags at a cost of only a dollar or you can find more expensive and stylish options online. Reusablebags.com has several options avaialbe for purchase.
If you’d rather make your own free cloth bag in only a few minutes time, check out my post here on how to turn an old t-shirt into a reusable bag.
Reuse: Use plastic grocery bags as tiny trashcan liners or for double-wrapping chicken bones, watermelon rinds or other messy foods before throwing them away. I generally don’t take my reusable bags to Walgreens and CVS because they don’t have the proper set up to make it easy for cashiers to use them. The bags I acquire from these two stores are the perfect amount for our household needs.
Another easy way to reuse plastic grocery bags is by using them as packing material when shipping a package or packing boxes for storage or moving.
Store plastic bags in a cardboard toiler paper or paper towel tube to keep them handy in the kitchen or the car.
Recycle: Some recycling centers accept plastic bags for recycling. Another option is to recycle them in bins that are often located inside the front doors at Walmart and other grocery stores.