Plastic Bags Kill Hundreds of Thousands of Sea Animals Annually!
Use Reusable Bags Instead

Plastic Grocery Bag Sustainability Effort Progress

2010 Sustainability Effort:
Reduce my Consumption of Plastic Grocery Bags

I started to make a page regarding the web site's Sustainability Practices, but the list would be very long and full of practices our visitors and customers naturally expect given my focus on the environment. So I decided it might be more interesting to report on current efforts to reduce my consumption of plastic grocery bags.

Starting March 1, 2010, I decided to CHANGE MY HABITS with the goal of consuming (being the first consumer to use) no more than 5 plastic grocery bags per month. For those 5 bags and any other bags that fly my way, I have set up a system to reuse the ones I need for garbage can liners and pooper scoopers, and make sure the rest get to a recycler. My city doesn't include plastic bags in their recycling program, but there are collection boxes set up at several local stores.

For some time, I've believed that reusable bags are the way to go. Occasionally I remembered to bring my cotton canvas bag to the store, but I had never really got it all organized so that I always had bags when I needed them. I forgot to put the reusable bags in the car when I went shopping, or I forgot to bring them into the store with me, or I didn't have enough reusable bags to accommodate all my groceries. And the City where I live didn't accept plastic bags in our recycling program. Which is all a wimpy way to say that I just hadn't CHANGED MY HABITS.

Plastic Grocery Bag Sustainability Effort GoalsWIDTH=

Then I saw this video about plastic grocery bags and ocean life (below) that stopped me in my tracks. Large numbers of ocean creatures are killed every year because they mistake plastic bags for food and eat them. The plastic bags block their stomachs and they die. I've seen estimates from 100,000 to several hundreds of thousands of large sea mammals die each year. It makes me sick to think about it. And very sad. I made a resolution to change my habits starting March 1 of 2010. Changing habits isn't easy, but the thought of a whale, porpoise, or sea turtle dying is motivation enough.

Keep reusable bags in the car. I would bring them inside and forget to bring them back to the car. Now, I empty them as soon as I get in the house and set them back by the door so I don't forget to return them to the car.
Bring reusable bags inside the store. I would forget to bring them in the store. Will now go back out to car and get them. My city is encouraging store owners to paint a reminder right outside driver side door in every parking space.
Bring enough bags for all purchases. I would sometimes buy more than I could fit in my reusable bags. Am getting more reusable bags.
Recycle bags that are not reused. The city where I live doesn't include plastic bags in their recycling program and when I accumulated more than I could reuse, I would end up throwing them away. Now I have found several retailers that take bags for recycling, so I save up any I can't reuse as plastic garbage liners or pooper scoopers and make sure they get to a recycling operation.
Don't use more plastic bags than are needed if I can help it. I didn't think much about taking a plastic bag if the bagger used one. Oddly, they sometimes use one when I buy only one small item and no bag is required. Now, I stop them and put the item in my pocket, purse, or just carry it. I haven't figured a way around fast food places that use plastic bags, though. They seem to be necessary to avoid spills.
Prevent baggers from using bags. A lot of times, clerks will grab a plastic bag and use one before I can tell them I don't want it or even if I have reusable bags with me. Now I mention it as soon as I get to the register.

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