The next single-use item that needs to be swapped out for reusable ones is grocery bags. Regular plastic bags are not durable yet they take forever to break down and biodegrade. Bringing your own grocery bag to the store can help reduce this waste.
Because plastic bags are small, they’re easily blown out of trash cans and into places we don’t want them. Not to mention they can be easily torn into smaller bits where they might be ingested by wildlife. Some companies have gone as far as to ban plastic bags altogether, but we still have a long way to go in the fight against single use plastics.
When I was in India during a hiking trip, we went out to a field where we found mounds of plastic in big oddly shaped heaps. Our tour guide explained that the cows would eat out of garbage piles and would end up consuming large amounts of plastic where it would stay in their digestive tracts until they would eventually die. As the animal decomposed, everything disappeared except for the piles of plastic perfectly preserved in the shape of their stomachs. It was devastating and eye-opening. There’s a documentary called The Plastic Cow that highlights this problem and what we can do to reduce our plastic waste.
Until legislation can be passed to limit single use plastics, we must rely on individuals to do their part. Sometimes it’s easy to forget our reusable water bottles or grocery totes, but anything can be made into a habit. I, for instance, like to keep my grocery totes in my trunk so that they’re always there when I go shopping.
I also plan on making my own grocery bags using upcycled clothing. Remember, we can only offset our plastic waste by consistently using reusable totes, but we also need to make sure we wash them regularly to keep them sanitary. It might seem like a small change, but little changes like bringing your own bag can make a big difference overtime.