So, one of the way's I've felt convicted to be more "green" is by using fewer plastic bags. Adam and I have alway's tried to limit the bags we use by buying those big cloth bags they sell at all of the grocery store's (you know the ones that take up half you're grocery cart they're so big and bulky), but, unfortunately we have a bad habit of forgetting them at the house. They just are so impractical to carry around with you... I know that's not a good excuse, but it's the one a liked to use
The more I read about the damaging effects that plastic has on our environment, the more convicted I felt to use it less and less. I was browsing through this website the other day and thought the following facts regarding plastic bags was horrifying! I thought I would post them below so you can read them yourself.
- Canadians use 9-15 billion plastic shopping bags every year.
Is that number too big to think about? Then picture this: if we tied 9 billion bags together they would circle the earth 55 times.
- Plastic bags are made from non-renewable resources
Just 8.7 plastic shopping bags contain enough embodied petroleum energy to drive a car 1 km.
- Five minutes versus 1000 years
The average plastic bag is used for five minutes to carry your purchases home, yet these single use plastic bags can take up to 1000 years to break down.
- Plastic bag recycling is inefficient
The market price for recycled bags in Canada is $55 per tonne which is about 150,000 bags. The energy and funds required to collect and process plastic bags far exceeds the $55 market price after recycling. Recycling plastic bags just isn't worth it.
- Plastic bags kill birds, wildlife, and livestock
Plastic bags are known to kill sea birds, sea mammals and fish. Turtles, dolphins, and whales can choke or starve by confusing plastic bags for jellyfish. On land, plastic bags kill birds, livestock, and deer.
- Plastic bags block drains, leading to flooding
Plastic shopping bags have been banned in Mumbai, India, and in Bangladesh after they were blamed for clogging drains and sewers, leading to severe floods that killed over 1000 people in 2005.
- Every piece of plastic ever made still exists
There are approximately 46,000 pieces of plastic floating in each square mile of the world’s oceans. In some places there's more plastic than plankton. Plastic bags are in the top 12 items of debris most often found in coastal cleanups.
- Plastic bags don’t biodegrade, they photodegrade
Photodegradation is a chemical reaction between plastic and sunlight. It means that the plastic bags break down into smaller and smaller toxic bits contaminating soil and waterways and entering the food web when animals accidentally ingest them. Yuck!
- Canadian plastic bags have been found as far away as Scotland
Because plastic bags are easily transported by wind and water they can travel great distances. Plastic bags are now common everywhere from Spitsbergen (78° North latitude) to the Falkland Islands (51° South latitude).
- Not all litter is deliberate
Up to 47% of wind borne litter escaping from landfills is plastic, mainly plastic bags. These end up in our forests, grasslands, waterways, and oceans. Approximately 80% of marine trash is swept by wind and rain off highways, streets, and landfills, down streams and rivers, and out to sea.
- Reusable bags are the solution
A sturdy, reusable bag will last for years, and only needs to be used 5 times to have a lower environmental impact. Buy a bag today!
So, after reading all of that I felt even more convicted. My half hearted attempts to not use plastic bags were really a far cry from helping solve the problem. So I have made a commitment to go completely bag-less for the next month to try to make it a habit. One of Adam's professors at Regent said that the best way to make a habit of something is to do it for 30 days straight. So as of this past monday I have committed to using reusable bags for the next month. No bags for grocery's, for shopping, or toting around our stuff in when we go out. We have quite a few grocery bags stored up in our kitchen that we use instead of buying bags for our garbage cans. When those run out I'm not sure what we'll do....
Now the only downside that I saw to this whole decision was carrying around the previously mentioned bulky cloth bags. Don't get me wrong they're great for the grocery store and all but I didn't really want to be toting one of those around the mall. Then I discovered these:
Envirosaxs is a company that makes the cutest and most practical alternative to plastic bags. I saw them on a blog that I've started to read and then a few weeks later they were on one of those deal-a-day websites and I knew that I had to have them. After receiving them I have been so impressed. Not only do they come in tons of cute patterns, but they carry a ton, are comfortable to carry on your shoulder and they fold up into a tiny little pouch that you can keep anywhere... the glove compartment of your car, your purse (or diaper bag), your pocket... you get the picture!
So,here goes our attempt at a bag-less July/August! Hopefully we're able to stick with it this next month. I'll let you know how it goes!