I recently watched a full DVD Bag It: Is your life too plastic? (For more info see www.bagitmovie.com) I really enjoyed it, especially the Extended Interview with Shanna Swan. It provides a good explanation of why it is good to insist on reduced packaging, and why plastics create a long-term environmental problem.
A key item is the single-use plastic bags used by stores of all kinds. This issue is most frequently discussed in reference to the bags in grocery stores because that is the greatest use by adults. But mall stores are typically the location of highest plastic bag use for teenagers. Plastic bags are not organic and never fully biodegrade, they just break down into smaller inorganic parts. A huge amount of these plastic parts wind up in the ocean and are consumed by ocean wildlife. They are not organic and cause the death of marine life. They will never break down into harmless substances.
Reusable Bags : Can they be recycled?
A better solution is reusable bags, but only if that reusable bag is compostable, i.e., organic. Unfortunately, many of the bags sold as “reusable bags” are not practically recyclable. In other words, they would be recyclable if someone was available to recycle them, but almost no one does. So here we go again, creating an environmental problem to solve an environmental problem. Many of the cheap reusable bags are made of NONWOVEN POLYPROPYLENE which is non-biodegradable. They carry tags assuring you that they are recyclable, but try and find someone who will take them. I have been told the City of LA takes them in curbside recycling, but most places don’t. If you have some of these bags that have worn out, you can “recycle” by shipping to the <A HREF=” http://www.chicobag.com/repurposing-program”>ChicoBag Repurposing Program.</A>
I strongly prefer to use <A HREF=”http://www.dancingthreadsri.com/ “>canvas bags</A> because they last longer, and are easily laundered many times. <A HREF=” http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/reusable-grocery-bags-breed-bacteria”> You DO need to launder your bags for health reasons</A>, but just throw them into the wash after you unload the groceries. No big deal. <A HREF = “http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/home_blog/2012/06/reusable-bags.html” >There are other options</A>, but I encourage you to choose a material that is ultimately biodegradable. That is the sustainable choice. There are other things to consider, but waste that never biodegrades is something our descendants will have to deal with forever.
For a description of various reusable bags, <A HREF=” http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/home_blog/2012/06/reusable-bags.html“ >read this</A>.
Do It Yourself
Make your own reusable grocery bags.
There has been some concern over overseas manufacturers using <A HREF=” http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/15/nyregion/15bags.html?_r=0”>lead paints</A>. If you prefer to decorate your own bags, see this video clip.