Monday, June 9, 2008

No bag please

Mum, Sis and I went shopping over the weekend. We were at the grocery store, the drug store, and the garden center. Everywhere I tried to minimize the amount of plastic bags. Mum was surprised. I don’t know how she felt about it. She complained at having to carry a bottle of cooking oil, which has a handle and doesn’t need a plastic bag! But then she said I’m always a weird in a half proud kind of way.

When we got back to Sis’s place we helped her put away everything including the plastic bags. Her plastic bag filled one small cupboard! Must be hundreds of bags. I could barely push another one in there. The point? We reuse plastic bags. But never as much as the number we get.

I was watching CBC Friday. A documentary on the plastic bag says Canadian use 6 billion bags a year. Considering there are 30+ million Canadians that is a whole lot of bags. They talked to people on the street. I’m surprised at the number of people who didn’t know they are made from oil.

Other bad things? What about the energy used to produce then, the landfill problem, the birds and fish killed because they swallowed them, and the generally cluster.

I had a browse through the Internet, and there are many justifications for using plastic bags. For example, we reuse them. Well, obviously not a solution judging by Sis’s overflowing cupboard. They take more energy to produce than paper bags. Um, how about not using bags? They don’t take up that much landfill space, or the oil/energy used is not nearly as bad as car exhaust. So that makes it ok? We got to do everything we can to minimize our impact on our environment.

I’m going to approach this like I do my personal finance. Every penny earned/saved counts. Now I’m going to count every bag that I don’t use. I’m going to put it up on the sidebar to see how many bags I can eliminate just by bringing my own (very cute, baby blue) tote and saying no to bags.

P.S. I know this is not exactly Personal Finance related but it could be. In stores where you have to pay for bags, the savings are obvious. Indirectly being friendly to our environment can have benefits too. Like possibly, if stores spend less money on bags, operating costs go down down, which may trickle down to customer savings? Less in landfills means good for our city budget and property taxes? Just some ideas.


Melissa said...

Add in the fact that despite people's attempts to recycle plastic bags, because of how lightweight they are, not all actually make it to the recycle center. They get blown away and end up in the landfill anyhow, or worse, in the environment for animals to deal with. I'm trying to make the switch too but the ones I do recycle I always weight down or tie them in bundles to ensure they make it.

Laura said...

I don't take a bag if I only have a few items. When I do take a bag, I use them because I have a dog. This may be silly, but if we eliminate plastic bags, how will I clean up after my dog on our walks? I know that this doesn't justify or make plastic bags acceptable. And elimination means people will figure out a creative way to solve this problem that will also be practical. But until then, I still accept the bags for their other purpose in my life.

Esme said...

That's a good point. It's not doing anything for our city to have plastic bags blowing about.

Good that you are reusing your bags. Because you have a dog you can use up more bags. I mean for someone who doesn't need that many bags, they should try to reduce the number they get.

Anonymous said...

great idea to track this! I've been using my bags for quite some time now and am still surprised by how many people don't know/care/bother to avoid plastic. I work in the wilderness and in parks a lot and you wouldn't believe how often I come across bags that are breaking down (but not biodegrading!) into thousands of little pieces and its disgusting. I have a rule that if I don't remember my bags (I have about a dozen of them - got some free from a giveaway we did at an old job I had) then I don't buy anything or else I have to figure out some other way to carry my purchases. I also have the same rule for to-go coffees - no cup, no coffee!

In response to your other posters - using plastic bags for dog messes isn't that great... I know its an expense, but biodegradable dog bags are better. That way your dog's mess isn't "entombed" in plastic in a landfill, it will eventually break down. I know that sounds nutso, but plastic is never good.

I'm going to start tracking my plastic bag savings too! I think it will be interesting to see how many I am saving. Thanks for this tip.