Plastic Free July Day 6: Reusable Bags

 reusable tote bag zero waste shopping

(Back to the challenge summary)

 The Facts

bag monster single use plastic

  • 100 billion plastic bags consumed annually in the US. Worldwide, it’s close to 4 trillion. That comes out to over 7 million per minute.
  • Less than 1% of plastic bags are returned to be recycled.
  • A person uses a plastic carrier bag on average for only 12 minutes.
  • Plastic bags are a plague for the environment and the ocean. They have been found floating north of the Arctic Circle near Spitzbergen, and as far south as the Falkland Islands.
  • Plastic bags are among the 12 items of debris most often found in coastal cleanups, according to the nonprofit Center for Marine Conservation. They kill marine life, like turtles who mistake them for jellyfish.

 It’s not unusual to see a plastic bag floating in the air unfortunately.


What about Plastic Bag Bans?

ban the bag greenpeace

More and more cities and countries are banning plastic bags and this is fantastic news: check out here a list of every ban in the US.

But this won’t solve the problem, there are loopholes in these regulations. For example, in California:

  • Single-use plastic bags are banned in grocery stores, pharmacies, and convenience and liquor stores. What about produce bags, take-out orders bags, all the other stores that give shopping bags to their customers… ?
  • Thicker plastic bags are considered reusable, they are legal. Are they reused? I doubt that. And if they end up in the environment, they will still be harmful for thousands of years.

That’s why the way to go is to simply refuse plastic bags all the time!

How do you do that? Well, it’s a little bit of organization at first but after that you won’t have to think about it anymore. And the investment is minimal: we all already have dozens of reusable bags in our homes, no need to buy more.

Declare War on Single Use Plastic Bags with These 5 Tips!

reusable bags tote cotton zero waste

(photo credit: Ecobags)

Tip 1: Refuse unnecessary plastic bags! Anytime you shop people will insist to give you a bag, they think it will make you a happier customer. Be strong, say no if you don’t need it!

Tip 2: Put 5 reusable bags in your car, packed together, and keep one folded in your purse or your backpack. This way, when you’re going out, you’ll always have a bag within easy reach.

Tip 3: Maybe you forgot your bag. Do you really need the plastic bag the store nicely wants to give you? Can you carry your stuff without it? Do they have paper bags instead? If you’re going home, can you simply put what you bought in your car without a bag?

Tip 4: Produce bags are not included in plastic bag bans. But the good new is: most produce don’t need plastic bags at all! Many can be bought loose because they are protected by a thick skin (like bananas). And if If you’re worried about cleanliness, a thorough washing at home will do the trick. Carry smaller cotton totes to fill up in place of using single-use produce bags!

Tip 5: You still have a stack of plastic bags at home, what to do with them? Personally, I use them to store shoes when I go on vacation. If you have too many and you want to get rid of them: place them in a plastic bag, close it tight and put it in the recycling bin. In the Bay Area, Recology and Waste Management accept them. But as usual, don’t forget that there’s a good chance they won’t be recycled unfortunately.


With these 5 tips you should be able to Ban the Bag from your life!


Join the conversation!