The Time Has Come to Stop to Stop Using Plastic Bags

by Katy on May 23, 2017 · 85 comments

The following is a reprint of a previously published post. Enjoy!

Want to save the earth, but don’t know where to start? Here’s a simple suggestion — stop using plastic shopping bags!

It is estimated that 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are now produced annually for the world market. That comes out to over one million per minute. Billions end up as litter every year.

They’re poisoning marine life, littering our planet and causing massive environmental damage.

Many countries now ban the use of plastic bags, period. Yet here in the United States we hold off from taking a stand.

Here are some ways other countries address the issue:

  • Ireland instituted a “Plas Tax”  charging shoppers 33 cents per bag. A huge success, with an almost immediate 94% decrease in plastic bag usage. The money raised then goes to cleanup projects and environmental issues.
  • Bangladesh banned plastic bags after finding that bag-clogged gutters were the primary cause of flooding during the monsoon season.
  • The Northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh has enacted a complete ban. Anyone found even using a plastic bag could face up to seven years behind bars, or a fine of up to 100,000 rupees ($2,000).
  • Even China announced a ban on free plastic bags, given with purchases.

If all these countries can enact change towards a plastic bag free world, what are we waiting for?

It doesn’t take a huge effort. Many stores sell inexpensive re-usable shopping bags. Or you could simply gather up all those canvas tote bags you already own and start putting them to use.

Join me in my challenge to stop using plastic bags.

C’mon, Non-Consumers, it’ll be fun!


Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 85 comments… read them below or add one }

cathy May 24, 2017 at 12:37 am

Here in the uk they charge 5pence for a flimsy bag and 10p for a bag for life (sturdy and gets replaced when it wears out). It has made an enormous difference to consumer behaviour and plastic bag usage is down by something like 70%. so worthwhile.


SueB May 26, 2017 at 10:33 am

Although I have a couple of neighbours who think it’s all some big conspiracy theory to make the supermarkets more money *rolleyes*

But, in the end, plastic bag consumption has gone down massively, so a little bit of stupidity is a small price to pay.


Adriana @MoneyJourney May 24, 2017 at 1:06 am

We’ve stopped using plastic bags a long time ago. I bought some canvas tote bags and we keep reusing them every single time we go shopping.
I also carry around a reusable bag you can fold into itself! Mine folds into a strawberry and I got my mum a coupe of reusable bags that fold into cute little bunnies 😀 They’re really small and so much more eco friendly!


Gail May 24, 2017 at 1:45 am

Sometimes, esp. lately, I am embarrassed by our country’s lack of attention to the environment and by the ignoring of science.


Mand01 May 24, 2017 at 2:02 am

Our state banned the plastic bag about five years ago. Maybe longer. It’s second nature for us to take our reusable bags shopping with us. If we want one we have to pay 15 cents. There is a loophole for department stores and specialty shops that I think should be closed.
I do think seven years for plastic bag use is a bit much…


Laura May 24, 2017 at 3:05 am

Plastic bags are banned in Hawaii, no exceptions – we learned pretty quickly to bring our own bags (got a lot of practice back in Portland), and the paper bags we get from department stores and other places we save and recycle for Christmas wrap. On my last trip back to the mainland, it seemed very strange to be given a plastic bag when I went to a supermarket.

Plastic bags are still in heavy rotation in Japan, but . . . they seem to all get recycled. You really don’t see them much except on trash day, when they’re reused for garbage. We never saw them littering anywhere. We even had a special trash can in our hotel room for recycling plastic bags!


Jane May 24, 2017 at 5:14 am

That’s interesting about the reuse of paper bags for wrapping paper. It makes me think department stores should do what the feed mills did when they realized women made dresses from feed sacks, department atores should acknowledge this use and design their bags as possible reused wrapping paper 🙂


MW May 24, 2017 at 6:32 am

Yes! During the holidays some places do use paper bags that have a pretty print, but it would be nice year round. Of course, my Dad might chuckle if he starts recognizing all his gift wrap coming from WinCo.


Kathi May 24, 2017 at 4:29 am

We visited San Francisco and bought sweatshirts. The cashier asked if we wanted a plastic bag for 10 cents. We said nothing because we were going to wear them. I wish our country would ban the plastic bags. When you see them hanging in trees, laying on the side of the road, even in the Gulf of Mexico it has gone too far. We have used cloth bags for about ten years now. Do. Ot miss the plastic. If people think they would forget the bags, leave them in your car you will always have them.


Kathi May 24, 2017 at 4:30 am

Sorry, did not read before hitting submit. We said No.


Karen May 24, 2017 at 8:32 pm

My city in Silicon Valley led the way in California, banning plastic bags about 7 years ago. Now the ban has spread to many other cities. You can get a reusable plastic bag at some stores, or you can buy a paper bag for ten cents. At first, there was a tiny outcry–but but that means I either pay for a bag or have to become a planner and bring my own bags?!–but pretty much everyone got over it without lasting trauma.


Mrs. Picky Pincher May 24, 2017 at 4:42 am

It’s so funny because I clearly remember when I first saw plastic bags. I’m not sure if I was naive or if it was because I grew up on Army bases, but it wasn’t until I was 8 that I used a plastic bag. Before then, everything had been paper sacks. The sacks kinda sucked though, because they broke when they were heavy. Plastic seemed like a great solution!

Except now everyone uses them and they’re horrible. Mr. Picky Pincher and I have switched to reusable, washable plastic bags and it’s made a huge difference. 🙂


Susie's Daughter May 24, 2017 at 5:00 am

I have two thin fabric bags that fold up into themselves that live in my purse when not in use. Some of the grocery stores here will give a .05 credit per bag that I bring. The remainder of the reusable bags live in the back of my car. Come to think of it, I should leave an empty reusable coffee cup in there too!


CarolineRSA May 24, 2017 at 5:06 am

Here in South Africa, supermarkets charge for plastic bags, anything between 30c and 70c. I am regularly fascinated by people buying trolley loads of groceries, and then just adding on 10-15 bags! I use canvas bags; my mom prefers to re-use plastic bags. She has a bunch in her handbag, one for each of the shops she frequents. Heaven forbid she should pull out a Spar bag in Checkers…


MW May 24, 2017 at 6:34 am

I do feel a bit funny pulling out a Whole Foods bag at my discount stores, but generally I just laugh at it.


Diane C May 26, 2017 at 9:25 pm

Ha! I feel funny using a 99 Cents Only bag at Grocery Outlet and vice versa.


WilliamB May 24, 2017 at 5:13 am

The need is obvious. I think the barrier is people remembering to bring their reusable bags; OTOH stores could go back to paper bags and/or charging for bags. People respond to incentives, after all.

Most of the time I use canvas bags, and even keep extra canvas and insulating bags in the car for unplanned trips. Sometimes I have to remind the baggers to use my bags, even if it means taking my stuff out of the plastic bags they’ve already started to pack.

Something I don’t understand is why other stores are allowed to use plastic bags. Is it that the big problem is the ultra-thin, small bags used by food stores but not the thicker, bigger bags used by, say, department stores?


Jane May 24, 2017 at 5:18 am

I have probably annoyed so many cashiers with my bags, but it’s one thing I have stopped being worried about. They still try to bag meat and I’m like look I wash the bags for meat and if it leaks the flimsy bag won’t help anyway. it’s tough because places are so set up for plastic that bagging otherwise can be awkward.


AFS June 3, 2017 at 11:51 am

one day I was so Irked, the bagger wasn’t using my bag so they toot the groceries out and threw away the plastic bag. I may have over reacted but if I were that bagger I would never throw away a usable bag again, ever.


Rosa June 4, 2017 at 8:09 pm

The problem is that they have a very short use life (think how many get home with holes already in them, or don’t even make it all the way home) and are very difficult to recycle – they’re made out of all different grades of plastic so are hard to resell, and don’t work in the sorting mechanisms lots of municipal recyclers use. So the cost/benefit of their existence is pretty terrible.

The barrier is rightwing hippie punching, really. We passed a plastic bag ban in my city; the new Republican state legislature felt so strongly about it they put a bag-ban ban into the state budget they just passed. Just to piss off Democratic city voters, basically.

Bizarrely, the retailers association was against it – even though you’d think that charging for bags would be a benefit for them. I guess they feel like the stuff they sell is so useless people won’t buy it if they have to carry it without a bag or pay 5 extra cents?


Jane May 24, 2017 at 5:20 am

I lived abroad where super cute reusable bags were mich cheaper and sturdier than here so have a great collection. I have finally trained myself to always have 1 or 2 in my purse and at least I get 5 cents off per bag at target and my local supermarket enters you in a drawing each month when you use them.


Bee May 24, 2017 at 5:21 am

Katy, thank you for your efforts to limit plastic consumption and discourage the use of plastic bags. This is an issue close to my heart. I have lived on the Florida coast most of my life and spend a great deal of time on the beach. Plastic is everywhere!
Despite the damage that is done to our marine life and waterways, there has been little attempt to limit the consumption of plastic bags in this state.
On a personal level, I try to use my reusable bags or not take a bag at all. However, this requires a fight nearly every time I go to the store. This small action is simply not enough.
If you live in Florida, please refuse plastic and write your local government official and retail stores. If you visit, please try to avoid these bags. What is happening to our ocean is unnecessary. The unwillingness of retailers and government to act is unforgivable. Thank you for listening.


Jennifer May 24, 2017 at 7:08 am

I am just leaving the Florida coast right now. The beaches are beautiful but, yes, everything shop I went into had plastic bags for every purchase. I didn’t buy anything myself, I mostly just like to look. Plastic bagging is the norm around this area and most people here are numb to it. It’s the same where I live. Every Dollar General, Walmart, Grocery store, etc. has normalized this practice. The big companies will have to make the change to make the biggest impact, IMO. I don’t mind using reusable bags at all. Sav-a-lot, a common grocery store in my area, used to not supply bags and you had to bring your own bag/ box to get your groceries to your car as a cost saving measure for the store and the consumer. We would all adapt, as we do to everything else, and be better for it as well as our planet.


Mary in Maryland May 24, 2017 at 5:49 am

I always have my two reusable bags in the car for grocery shopping. In them I have my cleaned zip lock bags for produce, as I don’t want the flimsies the store has out for produce. Lately management has been arguing that my bags pose a public health hazard–and that the bag tax pays for the environmental cleanup. Not.


Jenny May 24, 2017 at 8:41 pm

How are you a health hazard??? How ridiculous.


Roberta May 24, 2017 at 6:03 am

Here in California, we recently instituted a plastic bag ban. You can buy a sturdier bag for 10 cents, but I have seen a huge increase in the number of reused bags at the grocery, a decrease in the number of bags used, and a huge decrease in the number of bags in the environment.

On another note, please wash your bags from time to time! I know it grosses out cashiers to get grimy bags, and the plastic reusable bags that many people use can get really bad.


Karen B. May 30, 2017 at 5:14 pm

It’s so easy to throw the plastic reusable bags in the washing machine for a good clean! Turn them inside out and throw in with towel/sheet load. When done, just hang up. Same goes for the fabric/canvas bags! Gotta clean them!


marieann May 24, 2017 at 6:22 am

Thank you so much for addressing this issue. When I am Queen all plastic bags will be banned.
Until then I do what I can. I have been using canvas/cotton bags for years. I also have little mesh produce bags.
A few months ago our Bulk Food store started allowing us to bring our own containers… made me so happy, so I now buy everything I can from them regardless of cost.
I knit and sew bags all the time and give them as gifts….to try and spread the word, and save money on gift at the same time 🙂


Vickey May 27, 2017 at 6:04 pm

I vote you for Queen!

I’ve been bringing my canvas bags to the grocery store for about 20 years. When they reach the end of their useful life, I can cut them up and put them into the compost pile.


MW May 24, 2017 at 6:30 am

Canvas bags are also less likely to break when schlepping groceries around. Oh, how I mourned that six pack of beer. . .


Vickie May 24, 2017 at 6:47 am

I wish they would ban them. I think it’s a state by state initiative here in the U.S.

If I don’t have my reusable bags with me, I ask for brown paper sacks.


Dori May 24, 2017 at 7:23 am

This is so important! If we all start working on making the change to using fewer or NO plastic bags, we could make a huge positive difference for the planet. Thanks for shining a light on this issue, Katy!!


Jennifer May 24, 2017 at 7:25 am

Beyond store shopping bags, we try to reduce and reuse all plastic that comes into our home. Even dry cleaner bags, toilet tissue and paper towels that come in plastic–that plastic gets used for household trash. We re-use all sorts of plastic for picking up dog poop. Once we started noticing all of the plastic in our lives, we have really made a point to reduce our consumption. Especially with the dog poop picker uppers.


Ruby May 24, 2017 at 7:55 am

When we lived in Georgia, the Kroger store was great about not blinking an eye when we used reusable bags. But the stores here in Tennessee (we live in a small town attached to a large city) don’t seem to know what to do. The checkout stands are not set up to accommodate a cloth bag.

I think I just need to ask for paper bags, since they are endlessly useful around the house for painting projects, wrapping packages, draining grease, covering plants when there’s a late frost predicted, etc.


Rosa June 4, 2017 at 8:12 pm

if you keep asking, the cashiers will get more used to it and other people will see you doing it and feel less weird about it themselves, though.

I take my own leftover containers to dinner when we eat out, ESPECIALLY to places that use styrofoam. Last summer when we were in Tennessee and Georgia I felt like a giant conspicuous Yankee space alien. So I understand how you feel! But it does shift things a little bit for everyone.


tia May 24, 2017 at 8:02 am

What do people use for pet waste if they don’t use plastic bags?


Sarah May 24, 2017 at 9:18 am

I was wondering the same. I use plastic shopping bags to line our bathroom garbage cans-what is a better alternative?


Roberta May 24, 2017 at 1:18 pm

We don’t line our garbage cans, at all. We don’t make a ton of garbage that sticks; we use reusable washcloths or similar for the bathroom, and we compost so we don’t have much icky trash in the kitchen. Periodically we do have to wash out the bathroom trash cans, but I use a rag for that when I’m cleaning the bathroom and wash the rags with the icky load of laundry. For pet waste, we use bread bags and similar.


Katy May 25, 2017 at 10:40 am

I don’t line my bathroom garbage can and thrifted for a solid stainless steel can to keep it this way. Of course I use a menstrual cup, so there are no used tampons or pads. Instead it’s just Q-tips, dental floss and the occasional empty toothpaste tube.


Pattilou May 24, 2017 at 9:55 am

Tia, you can buy biodegradable poop bags.


Trish May 24, 2017 at 12:44 pm

Biodegradable poop bags are a gimmick– sorry to say– unless you actually compost them. if they go to landfill, they sit there for eternity with everything else. If your trash goes to an incinerator, they burn with everything else.

We use bread sacks and produce bags for garbage bags and dog poop. sometimes I use the plastic bags that frozen corn, peas, or blueberries some in (the big ones from costco).

It also helps to sort your trash and keep clean, dry trash in an unlined can, food scraps in the compost bin, and dirty/greasy/wet trash in the bread sacks.


Rachel May 25, 2017 at 5:58 am

More poop bag alternatives: sheets of newspaper, an unlined pooper scooper. Empty scooper directly into outdoor trash can. And hose it off regularly.


WilliamB May 25, 2017 at 5:59 am

They’re a gimmick even if you do compost them. The so-called compostable bags are compostable only if you have a really hot, carefully managed pile.


Kelly May 25, 2017 at 5:28 pm

Most of them don’t actually “compost” either. They just breakdown into smaller pieces of plastic.

You can make a dog poop composter, using a trash can with the bottom cut out and holes drilled in the side. You dig it into the ground (away from food producing plants and “soggy” areas), and get it started using septic starter. The lid is there to keep it all contained. 🙂

Ave May 26, 2017 at 12:34 pm

In the backyard, I just do what my Depression era mother did, I buy the dog poop with a shovel. I actually use the same small shovel that she used when I was a child.

While I use cloth bags for shopping, I still end up with a good number of plastic bags from bread, bagels, English muffins, etc. I really should bake my own, I know, but I am working two jobs right now and just don’t have the time.

Ave May 26, 2017 at 12:36 pm

In the backyard, I just do what my Depression era mother did, I bury the dog poop with a shovel. I actually use the same small shovel that she used during my childhood.

While I use cloth bags for shopping, I still end up with a good number of plastic bags from bread, bagels, English muffins, etc. I really should bake my own, I know, but I am working two jobs right now and just don’t have the time.

nicoleandmaggie May 29, 2017 at 1:18 pm

Back when we lived in a place that had rules against free plastic bags at checkout most places, we would still get just enough plastic bags from various places (ex. blueberries from the farmer’s market, restaurant take-out, art supplies from the daycare) to be able to deal with pet waste.

Now we’re back in a state that probably has laws against banning bags, and even though we bring resuable bags everywhere, we still get way more plastic bags than we need. It’s not just the use of individual bags, but that they’ll use a lot more when they do use them– sometimes double or triple wrapping and sometimes just putting one item in a plastic bag instead of multiple items. So one trip forgetting our bags will result in a huge amount of plastic waste compared to when cashiers are used to putting as much as possible into the 10 cent paper bag.


Rosa June 4, 2017 at 8:16 pm

I have not run into a shortage of plastic bags yet despite mostly using reusable cloth bags for a decade or more. We use bread and tortilla bags, produce bags (which we get very rarely but still often enough, apparently) the occasional “oops I wasn’t fast enough to stop the cashier” shopping bag. Sometimes my mother, who can’t stand waste, brings me a bag of bags she’s saved, because she can’t use hers up fast enough.

That’s for the dog and the cat. For the guinea pigs I save the bags their hay & bedding comes in and use that for the used bedding.


Debbie May 24, 2017 at 8:13 am

I make my bags out of feed bags and they are very tough. From groceries to plants. And they are easy to clean with wipes.


Pattilou May 24, 2017 at 10:10 am

I use cloth bags and insulated bags to grocery shop. I do use the grocery sized bags for my garbage (1 per week). I don’t have enough garbage to fill the usual 13 gallon bag. I recently had to ask friends for their grocery bags because I didn’t have any left.
I wish my city was more like Portland. Curbside composting would make me so happy and would definitely help cut down on garbage bag usage.
As someone above said – we would certainly adapt if we weren’t give the choice to use plastic.


Jess May 24, 2017 at 11:18 am

These are the best resuable bags – skip the ones that they give away for free and the ones made from recycled soda bottles that aren’t washable. They last forever, I’ve had mine for over 15 years now and they are still going strong. Also, they carry a lot more than plastic bags despite weighing very little. I keep one or two in my purse and a couple in my car so that I always have some with me.


Marianne May 29, 2017 at 3:51 am

My Envirosax are over 10 years old and still going strong. Love them for Aldi or where you bag you own. They don’t fit on the bagging stands at Kroger or Meijer so I stick with the canvas store bags but the newer store bags are junk. I have my original Meijer store bags when they first came out and were quality. The newer one I purchased are ripping out they are not the same material anymore.


Lindsey May 24, 2017 at 11:24 am

We buy dog food in 40 pound sacks and reuse those as garbage bags.


Trish May 24, 2017 at 12:45 pm

so do we– only for clean dry trash though, because it takes us a couple months to fill a 40 pound bag!


Joyce May 24, 2017 at 12:02 pm

I stitch grocery bags out of the plastic (yuck) bags that dog food comes in. I either make the handles from the bags or ribbon. Those things last forever! I have made extras to donate to our food bank as some of our clients do not have cars and rely on walking, bikes or the bus.


Kelly May 25, 2017 at 5:30 pm

Joyce, can you post a few pics of your finished bags? I would love to try this! Thanks.


Krystal May 24, 2017 at 1:37 pm

Our green, progressive city has “banned” plastic bags, but not really. Small businesses can still use them (through their stock, allegedly, but I am still being offered plastic bags 5 years in). No fines were issued the first year, and they have one “inspector” on the case. You can still get single use plastic bags everywhere, just not at grocery stores or some food stores for point-of-sale transactions, and there’s a 5 cent charge for a paper bag. Plastic produce bags abound. The local county health codes also greatly limit the use of personal containers for shopping (i.e. putting deli meat in jars, etc).

Seattle is so far ahead of the game on some issues compared to other parts of the nation, but really fell on their face on this issue.


Seattle Nancy May 24, 2017 at 1:40 pm

My town banned plastic bags a few years ago, but I had been on the reusable bag train for years before that. I have maybe a dozen or so in my car – we have many that had been given away on Earth Day, from trade shows, etc. A friend of mine gave me a big insulated one that’s great for hot days.

We save the plastic bags our newspapers come in for when we scoop the litter boxes.


janine May 24, 2017 at 2:47 pm

We also use plastic bags for dog poop – their best use! However, since I usually take cloth bags to the grocery store, we often run out so I have started asking family members who seem to have an endless supply, to contribute to our dog poop recycling project. At least they get re-used.

Our town is also embarking on a plastic bag ban which people generally support. Charging for them is also a good way to incentivize their non-use.


Anthony May 24, 2017 at 5:39 pm

Aldi forced the change in my behaviour years ago.

I’m too cheap to pay for plastic bags at the checkout – so reusable for me.

Keep a supply of reusable bags in the car boot


Lori May 25, 2017 at 3:47 am

In Canada the grocery stores and even Walmart charge 5 cents for a plastic bag. I don’t know if it is enough to discourage people from using them but I guess every bit helps.


Molly May 25, 2017 at 5:09 am

Katy, what do you put used cat litter in?


Katy May 25, 2017 at 10:37 am

I scoop the litter boxes into bread bags or cereal bags or whatever bag happened to have entered my house.


Marcia May 26, 2017 at 6:35 pm

Here is my “problem” with that: I make my own bread, so no bread bags. I already recycle the waxed paper inside cereal boxes to use as waxed paper. We did all this stuff in the 70’s and then it went somewhat “out of style” and now it’s in again. I recycle plastic bags that I bring home from the store by taking them back. A few I use for lining trash cans. I don’t use the produce bags at all if I can avoid them. I can put a sticker on a cabbage, a pepper, etc. Almost everything except berries –which come in clamshells mostly anyhow. Those get recycled, but seldom repurposed. We have mandatory recycling and don’t even have to sort things–just throw in to the town supplied trash can–newspapers, cans, glass bottles, etc. They don’t even have to be washed properly—only rinsed out fairly well. I am discouraged by our lack of progress in many ways.


Krystal May 29, 2017 at 10:55 am

The “natural” cereal I occasionally buy has plastic bags on the inside, so we end up using those for litter box scooping. Interesting yours are wax paper! I ‘m not sure I’ve ever seen that. Seems like a better idea than a plastic liner.


Rosa June 4, 2017 at 8:19 pm

Judging by our local freecycle, I would bet there’s someone near you who saves bread bags “for reuse” and never actually reuses them who would be DELIGHTED to give them away.


Beth May 25, 2017 at 5:42 am

I have a ton of reusable bags (most of which I’ve found at the GW Outlet) but almost always forget to bring them with me to the store. I never just throw the plastic bags on the ground, though I do throw them away which probably has the same end result.

This post is inspiring…I’ll need to start remembering my reusable bags!


Jessica May 25, 2017 at 10:11 am

I use my own cloth bags to shop I also take home made cotton bags for fruit and veg and unpack all the packaging from them in the store and transfer to my bags I then leave all the plastic containers in the store.
If we all did this the stores would cut way down on packaging as they would have to pay to dispose of the waste. Jessica in Scotland.


Mand01 May 25, 2017 at 1:11 pm

By doing that they will just throw it in the bin. To my mind that’s not achieving anything and is just shifting the problem away from you to someone else.


Kelly May 25, 2017 at 5:33 pm

I think the idea is to get stores to be more responsible when ordering in products (to consider how much packaging they come in – or if they should come in packaging at all).


Mand01 May 26, 2017 at 1:58 am

I understand the idea. I am skeptical that it will have the desired effect


Roberta May 26, 2017 at 7:02 am

I understand that there are stores in several locations that provide goods only in bulk, and encourage customers to bring their own packaging. These stores work with suppliers to reduce packaging, or reuse packaging. Once this is proven to be a viable option, I hope more stores (and suppliers) will be willing to embrace this plastic-free goods.

IsabelI May 25, 2017 at 11:35 am

No ban yet in the state I live for the plastic bag yet! Glad to see though how many people bring the reusable bags to the stores and how much interest there is in War on Waste! Have carried around cotton bags to use for purchases and at first thoughtbI was saving businesses money! My joke was ‘The old bag has got her bag!’ Have the large reusable bags for grocery shopping and am reusing the produce bags! Take them with me! Get a load of ideas from twitter about cutting down on waste! Do my bit but not perfect! Fortunately had parents who came from frugal times …. No rubbish collection then …. Also no or very little plastic.As
much as possible was reused or put back into the soil!


Bari May 25, 2017 at 1:11 pm

I was just conversing with a friend about the whole plastic / paper / durable re-use bag matter.
(Speaking from Western Oregon)…
It is striking when I see almost every shopper reaching into the back seat, under the seat, or into the trunk for a durable shopping bag they can use again and again. It is truly a testament to how fast a culture can be led toward a change of behavior.
Mind you, these folks aren’t just the young tree-huggers, it is almost everyone I see…old, young, male, female.
The behavior change wasn’t prompted by charging for paper bags. Just the opposite—initially many stores gave a 5 cent discount to people who brought their own bags. Eventually, the discount went away, but by then shoppers were trained!
I do hear a reminder (albeit rarely) that it is important to clean/wash your durable bags to avoid contamination (a reminder I hardly ever heed!).


Isitaneedorawant May 25, 2017 at 2:46 pm

I’m a fifties baby. I remember shampoo in glass, actually all liquid medicine in brown glass. Only paper bags at the store.
There are over 3000 different forms of plastic and limited research has been done on them. So many were implemented in the ’70’s.
I had a summer job at a summer camp when I was in school. We used to pack so much in dark green plastic garbage bags. ( Wet clothes from campers as an example).
I used to bring the bags home with my own wet clothes. My mother was kind of in awe of them and had all sorts of ideas of repurposing them. The idea( she was a product of the depression) to purchase something to immediately throw it away was so foreign to her.
I remember all our vegetable peelings and wet garbage was wrapped in newspaper or brown paper . The brown paper was wrapped around many everyday purchases and tied with string, which was saved in a ball. No elastic bands. You’ve reminded me of the many ways plastic was not in our lives.


Ruby May 26, 2017 at 8:44 am

I was born at the end of the 1950s and remember when plastic bags were such a rarity that my mom used the same heavy-duty one for years to wrap wet laundry in. She’d put the just-washed clothes in it and put the bag in the refrigerator until she could do the ironing. (In the Deep South, wet laundry would mildew in a heartbeat if it wasn’t in the fridge. It’s also nicely cooling to the person doing the ironing to handle refrigerated clothes.)


Gladys Starkey May 26, 2017 at 5:20 am

I always use reusable shopping bags but sometimes I come home with a couple of them. I save them and drop them off at Walmart for recycling.


Alexia May 26, 2017 at 6:17 am

This is a situation in which you really need regulations in place to force broad-scale changes in behavior. Unfortunately here in Wisconsin, Gov Walker and GOP legislators enacted legislation so that no municipality may enact a plastic bag ban.


Jessica May 27, 2017 at 12:49 am

But what to do about doggy poo when taking the pup for a walk? I have been struggling with this, we don’t have anywhere to compost poo and mr doggy goes for a poo walk everyday, any suggestions?


Vickey May 28, 2017 at 6:31 am

Jessica, there are several ideas listed up thread, including reusing plastic bags from various products, and an unlined pooper scooper. Read the thread, dear.


Annie May 28, 2017 at 7:44 am

We bought a small Whole Foods cart and the bag on it can be removed and washed when needed. We pack it ourselves so the cashier never has to touch it and we get credit for using it. We try to avoid using plastic produce bags but we use them only for things that might get squished and make a mess in the cart. (I am looking to get reusable ones as soon as the budget allows.) I also have some other reusable fabric bags. One of my favorites is by Flip and Tumble as it’s really easy to put back in the attached stretchy pouch, no special folding needed.

I finally got BPA free plastic containers for lunches so no more disposable snack or sandwich baggies for us!


Susan May 29, 2017 at 8:22 am

June 1st: Minneapolis goes plastic free. Hooray! I’ve been reusing bags or just not using them, but this will help me get even better on those days I forget them in the car. No other option. 🙂


Rosa June 4, 2017 at 8:26 pm

I am SO MAD about the bag ban ban. I knew it was coming but it’s plain petty. I feel like saying to the legislature “you know right now you’re bigger but if you keep picking on your little brother he’s going to grow and then you’ll be sorry!”


AFS June 3, 2017 at 9:13 am

I have a supply of canvas tote bags at the ready in my car for ALL not just grocery shopping. However, I don’t like governments making laws to ensure that citizens do the right thing. Why does it take monetary punitive means to force the public to JUST DO THE RIGHT THING?
Plastic bags have never been one time use items for me. I use them to pick up dog poop if we are away from home (at home we have a poop composter) I use them to line the waste basket, and for packing material when mailing fragile things. Most but not all cities in the Seattle area have banned plastic bags, but Turtles don’t eat plastic because stores give away plastic bags. Turtles eat plastic bags because people litter.


Amanda Curtis July 28, 2017 at 11:45 pm

Thanks for sharing. Its time to make a change. It starts from us and it starts from our home in order to stop environmental problems from happening. Keep on writing!


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