Friday, April 9, 2010

Plastic Bags: Use Less at the Grocery Store

It was almost a year ago that I wrote a post titled Re-Use Your Plastic Bags.

Around that time, as a way to gather data for a book proposal based on this blog, I was sharing my expertise as a grocery shopping-cum-cooking consultant

One of glaring things I noticed shopping with people is the consistent and unnecessary over-use of plastic bags at the grocery store.

Above is a pic of one of my client friends looking very sheepish because I had gently admonished her; every time she picked up an item of fresh produce, she grabbed a plastic bag.

Whether it was ears of corn, a pound of apples, oranges or heads of lettuce, Amy, like so many people I'd shopped with, put her fruits and vegetables into plastic bags before depositing them into her shopping cart.

Now, you're probably thinking, "What's wrong with that?! I do it; I put all my fruit and veggies in plastic bags."

In response, I'm going to ask that you ponder why?!

I'm guessing your answer might be something along lines of "because they're there!"

Right above the vegetables, or over by the fruit, it's easy and it's convenient to grab a plastic bag from one of the dispensers for your lettuce, potatoes, lemons etc.

In fact, one of my clients said that the reason she used plastic bags is because she thought it would be more convenient for the check out person!

Yet, I've never found loose, un-bagged produce to be an issue at the check out.

In other words, I've never had a check-out person say, "Excuse ma'am, we need you to put all your fruits and vegetables in individual plastic bags; it makes our job easier."

Of course, the reality is it's not my responsibility to make the check out person's job easier or more difficult (and I don't believe grocery stores require that of me).

But waste, in particular plastic bag waste, is my responsibility.

In fact, it's everyone's responsibility, including the check-out person at the grocery store, to reduce the number of plastic bags going into landfills.

The title of the post I linked to above is Re-Use Your Plastic Bags, and if you read that post you'll note that I'm not suggesting you do away with bagging your groceries in the small plastic produce bags or the large plastic carry bags.

Rather, I'm advocating using recycled plastic, and fewer plastic bags altogether, and then keeping your plastic bags and reusing them again and again, in fact, until they fall apart.

As we move closer to Earth Day 2010 "use less plastic" will be the re-occurring message in this blog.

If like me, you're a visual person, and if you're serious about wanting to change your relationship to plastic bags, and thus your relationship to the environment, watch "Plastic Bag," an 18-minute indie film narrated by German film director, Werner Herzog.

Reminiscent of the French film "Red Balloon," it's a poignant story on the vortex in the Pacific Ocean where plastic bags swirl about for eternity.


Lily Girl said...

This is a great post. I do use plastic bags for produce that I don't store loose in the 'fridge (like lettuces and leafy green herbs), but I then reuse them as much as possible for similar items from my CSA and garden. Anything that I want to corral in one bag but that I store loose, such as apples, onions, and avocados, I use reusable mesh produce bags. They are great, and I always get asked about them. Finally, I am still working on the impulse to grab a bag for just one thing, or easy-to-grab items, such as bananas, a hand of ginger, etc.
I keep my mesh produce bags and my fold-up reusable shopping bags in my purse at all times so that I always have them when I need them. These couple of steps have already greatly reduced my plastic bag waste!

Louise Ross said...

Thanks for this comment, Lily. Can you tell us where you got your reusable mesh produce bags or did you make them yourself?


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