This seems to be the year that Americans are finally ditching plastic for more environmentally-friendly alternatives. If fact, 2015 marks the first year in which an entire state, California, has banned plastic bags, and from the look of things, this is just the beginning of a plastic bagless future. Most of Hawaii, Seattle, and Austin, have already banned plastic bags, while cities like San Antonio, are considering making the move.
With the nation’s growing concern over plastic’s environmental and health impact, it’s likely that the plastic grocery bag’s days are numbered. Before you get upset about a life without plastic grocery bags, considering the following.
Plastic bags, and really anything made of plastic, pose many dangers to the environment, and possibly your health. The first obvious issue is that plastics don’t biodegrade very easily, which overburdens our landfills. In fact, plastic manufacturers have intentionally made them that way to allow plastic food containers to withstand acidic foods.
Another issue is that the prevalence of plastic bags have allowed bags to pollute our beaches, our parks, our freeways, and our neighborhoods. The manufacturing of plastics is also an issue as toxic chemicals are released into the environment. But chemical exposure is not limited to the manufacturing of plastics. The chemicals in plastic, most famously BPA, can leach into the foods we consume. Studies suggest BPA can cause problems in brain development and the prostate gland of fetuses, infants, and children.
Despite environmental and potential health risks of plastics, plastics can be found in nearly every aspect of our daily lives. You can help reduce your plastic footprint by following these six easy tips:
1. Bring Reusable Totes When You Shop
Reusable tote bags are a great way to kick the plastic grocery bag habit. Not only are they great for the environment, they can be stylish, fun, and clever. Also, many stores take 10 cents off your purchase for each reusable bag you bring in.
2. Avoid One-Time Use Water Bottles
The bottled water industry plays a major role in plastic pollution. The average American drinks 167 bottles of water a year, with the majority of the empty bottles going to the landfills. Switching to a refillable water bottle can save you money and help save the planet.
3. Trade Sandwich Bags for Reusable Containers
Sandwich bags, though convenient, are extremely wasteful. Next time you have leftovers or pack a sandwich for lunch, use a reusable Tupperware container or glass jar. Saving glass spaghetti sauce jars or other food containers is a great way to reduce and reuse. If you want your storage jars to match, sets of Mason jars are inexpensive, trendy, and easy to find.
4. Skip the Grocery Bag Altogether
When buying one or two items, consider skipping the grocery bag altogether. If you can carry it in two hands, don’t bag it!
5. Look for Food Items in Glass Jars
Many sauces, honey, and even milk can be purchased in glass jars. Glass jars don’t leak chemicals into foods and are easily reused in the home. Some items, like milk, are sold in glass deposit bottles. This basically means you’ve paid a deposit to use the bottle. Once the bottle is empty, return it to the store and you’ll get your deposit back and the bottle will be cleaned and reused.
6. Ask for Paper
Paper bags are still available in many grocery stores. If you’ve forgotten your reusable tote, ask for paper instead of plastic. Paper is biodegradable and easy to recycle, making it a great way to keep plastic bags out of circulation.
Reducing the use of plastics reduces pollution, lessens the load on our landfills and can save you money, so start kicking the plastic habit today!
– By Stephen Reynolds, Editor