Why Does It Matter?
You may have heard of US cities banning plastic bags, seen them stuck in trees or floating in the ditch. You may even have a hundred of them balled up and stored in one giant bag of bags. No matter WHERE you have seen them, chances are you HAVE SEEN them—they are everywhere! Once thought to have been lightweight and convenient, they are now becoming kind of a nuisance.
Since they are so lightweight and kite-like, it is easy for them to get caught in the wind and be deposited anywhere. They aren’t just ugly, they can also be dangerous. Millions of animal—mostly birds and marine animals—die or are injured from getting entangled or ingesting plastic debris they mistake for food.
Plastic bags are made from petroleum, a non-renewable natural resource (need we say more?). As of March 1st, Austin, TX was the latest city to ban retailers from providing free, single use plastic and paper bags to customers.
What Should You Do?
If you are a Reuser, continue on your quest to make all of these bags useful. Bags can find new life as trash bag liners, wet swimsuits holders, and are even useful when cleaning up after the dog. If you are super crafty, they can even be made into “Plarn” and crocheted or knitted into things like hats, basket, bags, placemats and coasters. Search “Plarn” on YouTube and you will see what we mean… But, with so many bags coming at us on a daily basis, there’s a pretty good chance we will run out of uses for them.
If you must have your groceries in a plastic bag, there are options for recycling them. Grocery bags, retail bags, newspaper bags and dry cleaning bags are accepted at many local retailers like JC Penney, Kroger, Lowes, Meijer, Target and Wal-Mart. These bags can become new bags or products like plastic pallets or lumber.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record (which could be reused, by the way), we will tell you again to bring your own reusable bags. Some stores like Target, Marsh and Wal-Mart will even give you a small discount for each reusable bag you use. Gather free reusable bags at trade shows, fairs and festivals and store them near the door or in your car, making them easy to grab on the way to and from the store. Also, make sure you wash your bags every once and awhile.
Thankfully, Spring has finally arrived! With the warmer weather comes flower and gardens to plant and grass to mow. Next month, we’ll share information and encouragement about composting and grass-cycling —two great ways to reduce waste and improve your soil! Both practices are easier than you may think so join us to learn more!