Monday, September 29, 2014

Bag Lady

Don't you just love bedraggled plastic shopping bags caught in trees?

Or having a cart overflowing with the things - usually with one or two items per bag?

The statistics on the use of plastic shopping bags are staggering:

Each year, an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide.
That's over one million plastic bags used per minute.

According to the Worldwatch Institute’s State of the World report.
Some 4 to 5 trillion plastic bags—including large trash bags, thick shopping bags,
and thin grocery bags—were produced globally in 2002.
Roughly 80 percent of those bags were used in North America and Western Europe.
Every year, Americans reportedly throw away 100 billion plastic grocery bags.

The average American family takes home almost 1,500 plastic shopping bags a year...

Americans use and dispose of 100 billion plastic shopping bags each year
and at least 12 million barrels of oil are used per year in the
manufacture of those plastic grocery bags.

The Wall Street Journal

Less than 5 percent of plastic grocery bags are recycled in the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency.

There is now six times more plastic debris in parts of the North Pacific Ocean
than zooplankton.

I kicked the plastic bag habit a few years ago.  I'd much rather have two or three full bags than twenty partially filled plastic ones.  Not sure why clerks think the dang things can only hold two items, but seems to be a universal packing strategy.

It takes a while to get used to a change in habits, but before long using your own bags just becomes part of shopping.   I keep several bags in the car and a few by the kitchen door and rarely get caught without a shopping bag.  

I think it helps to have nice bags that you like to use.  You know, the whole "add a little beauty wherever you can" approach.   Here are some of my favorites:

My Trader Joe's collection.

Honestly, I've had the purple bag for at least thirty years.  It came from the now-defunct Bumble Bee company that used to do home parties. We've used it as a beach bag,and to haul stuff for college moves as well as a grocery bag.   Love the colors of the Hannaford one.

This one's a thrift store find.  A woman stopped me in Trader Joe's to tell me that a friend had brought a bag like this home from Ireland.   So my bag has some world travel creed.

OK, I've been known to splurge on a bag that calls my name.  Postage stapes, cancellations - of course I had to have this one.  Check out the double handles - one set for shoulder-carrying, the other for hands only.

Plus there is a sweet little inside pocket.

Luckily there are lots of low-cost options for bags ; most grocery stores carry them and sometimes you can snag one with panache at a thrift store.  

See, being a Bag Lady can be a good thing. 



  1. Preach!! Those statistics are just flat out disgusting. I'm proud to say we use reusable bags every time we shop. I hope my kids' generation doesn't even know what plastic bags are!

    1. Hopefully more cities and states will ban single -use bags. Change is difficult, but making some incentives - free bags, discounts for using reusable ones, etc. can start the process. Good to see some stores with signage about reusable bags; hopefully it will seep into our collective consciousness.


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