Do you use reusable bags? Do they help or hurt?
http://www.mnn.com/food/healthy-eati...y-are?hpt=SbinThis morning, I read an interesting piece on Philly.com about reusable bags. Although the reusable bag market has grown, there isn’t any hard evidence that suggests the plastic bag market has decreased. In fact, “indirect measures suggest that plastic bag production has remained relatively steady.”
Reusable bags are supposed to help us consume less, specifically fewer plastic and paper bags. The number of reusable bags being given away at Earth Day events, sporting events, town festivals, banks, grocery stores and more ends up in the millions each year, and not everyone who is given a bag uses it. (Target gave away a million reusable bags just this month.)
Sometimes they go unused because they are of inferior quality. Sometimes they go unused because they end up in a pile of other free, unused reusable bags. Sometimes the person who accepted it never gets into the habit of using it.
With all of these bags going unused, a new environmental problem is developing — bags that end up getting thrown away without having been used. When the Chicago Bears gave away 40,000 bags at a 2009 game, many of them ended up in the stadium trash. I wonder about the bags that I took to Goodwill over the weekend. Is anyone ever going to use them?
Even if the giveaways do get reused, they might not get reused enough.
A nonwoven polypropylene bag, for example, would have to be used just 11 times to make up for the negative effects of a plastic bag used one time, according to a British Environment Agency study that compared bags. A cotton bag, however, would have to be used 131 times.
So if reusable bags aren’t solving the one-time use problem and they’re causing some environmental problems themselves, what’s the answer?
•For consumers, stop accepting free reusable bags that won’t get used. Just like we politely decline the free paper or plastic bags at checkout, we need to start politely declining a free reusable bag that we know we’ll never use again.
•For businesses and organizations wanting to give away bags as freebies for marketing purposes, consider the quality and the usefulness of the bags you’re giving away.
•For legislators, banning or placing a tax on the use of one-time use bags is proving to be effective, while bag giveaways and small rebates for reusable bags are not. When bans and taxes are enforced, people use those reusable bags more often. The use of plastic bags decreases significantly, and fewer plastic bags end up on the sides of roads and in our waterways.
Do you have reusable bags in your home that go unused?
Mom to Lee, Jake, Brandon, Rocco
Stepmom to Ryan, Regan, Braden, Baley
Granddaughters Kylie 10/18/2010 & Aleya 4/22/2013
I never consider a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosopy, as a cause for withdrawing from a friend. --Thomas Jefferson
I'm a mixed user
I need my supply of plastic bags so I can scoop doggy poop in them...
But I do use a few re-usable bags--mostly freebies. They've become my library bag, quick load of groceries, etc.. I keep one in the car "just-in-case". That said, I do have a couple that sit in my house...
I think the key is knowing your own usage and being aware. Turn it down if you don't need it (i.e. when I run into the grocery store for just a couple of items that I can carry out in my hands...or the dollar store....etc...)
Married DH '97
Mom to DS ('01), DD ('05), DD ('06), DD ('09), & DD ('11)
Hmmm, well I don't have stats to back up my stance, but I have a hard time believing that.
Every grocery store here either charges for bags or gives a discount if you bring your own. Most don't even have plastic bags at all - either you bring your own bags/bins or use paper.
I would say if plastic bag consumption has gone up or remained the same, it is because more people are shopping a Walmart or stores like it, that don't do anything to curb consumption.
Nothing to back that up, purely my own opinion.
Oh and I only use re-useable bags when shopping. I've got about 10 of them and they live in my van.
What plastic bags I do get are used as garbage bags.
Yes, I use them, although I usually don't have enough of them for a big grocery trip. I've been trying to stuff my reusable bags w/ the plastic bags though and use them. And I've been trying to remember to pick up a reusable each time I shop.
I can say in my house, the amount of plastic bags has decreased big time. I used to have a bajillion of those things! Now I only have a small bundle in my corner cabinent, and I use them to line a couple of the smaller trash cans throughout the house.
Lydia, do you use the plastic bags to scoop poop on walks or from your yard? I have some good suggestions if you use them to scoop your yard.
I only have reusables that are for cold food. The cloth ones mold etc when they get wet.. and paper well... sucks, it disinigrates sometimes before it gets in the door. So I use plastic usually. I usually recycle what I don't use to line garbage cans etc. I use a lot of those bags, for wet clothes, pee accidents, puke bags, treasures at the beach etc, so I don't have to recycle many of them.
DH-Aug 30th 1997 Josiah - 6/3/02 Isaac 7/31/03
I agree that most reusable bags given out are crap. But you don't have to accept giveaways, do you?
Most reusable bags I saw in the US are for car-users, and wouldn't stand up to normal use, I don't think.
I use canvas bags with tops, and can use those on my bike or on foot for a long time. If they get wet I wash them. Easy peasy.
In Hawaii they aren't allowed to give out plastic bags. I think that is a great step forward.
I rarely use my reusables for shopping. They are usually filled with swimming stuff, diaper supplies etc. However, my favorite grocery store puts all their empty boxes in bins at the check outs and then they 'suggest' that you use them for your groceries as they charge for plastic bags. So I usually do that, and then recycle the boxes when I am done. I love this system because I dont have to remember anything on my way to the store (my main reason for not using cloth), but I am reusing something all stores have on hand anyways.
Mom to Arianna (5), Conner (3) and Trent (my baby)
I tend to forget the usable bags at home when I go shopping. I do use them when I remember and they are great. But I have lots and they are mostly full of other stuff - swimming stuff, tupperware, kid stuff etc... They are great storage and I never seem to have enough of them.
I haven't gotten any as giveaways though. All of the stores here sell them for a dollar and they are good quality. Most stores here either charge for bags, give points for cloth, only have paper, or have done away with them all together.
I do have a stash of plastic bags too. I need them for the kitty litter and other yucky things. When I get too many there is a place that you can take them in for recycling.