Life In Plastic, Not Fantastic

BlogHer Original Post

I'd better just admit this right up front: I am terrible at limiting the number of plastic shopping bags that cross our threshold. It's not that I'm not committed to reducing our consumption of plastic bags - I have multiple recyclable shopping bags stashed in closets and cupboards all over our house - it's that, well, I'm just not so good at the whole remembering thing. As in, remembering to bring said recyclable shopping bags with me when I, you know, go shopping.

But it's February now, and February is 'Eliminate Plastic Bags' month at BlogHers Act Canada and the challenge has been issued: cut down on plastic, baby! And I can never resist a challenge.

Amy at BlogHers Act Canada writes that, 'according to Greenloop, "Each year over 1 million birds and sea mammals die from plastic ingestion or entanglement. Fifteen million trees are cut down every year to make paper bags in this country. Less than 1% of plastic shopping bags get recycled. 12 Million barrels of oil are used annually to produce plastic bags in the US."

The good news, she says, is that "over the last couple of years, it's been getting easier and easier to be a consumer who shops without the use of plastic bags. In our front hall closet we have a big pile of cotton and canvas shopping bags, and on a good day, I remember to bring them with me. (The trick seems to be leaving some cloth bags or a basket in the trunk of the car.)

Ah. There's my problem. See, I don't drive. So I don't have a trunk in which to keep my recyclable bags. (My husband does, but he keeps boxes instead of bags - we have a truck - so that when he gets groceries, he just loads them into the boxes. They're actually easier to manage that way.)

BUT: I do use a stroller from time to time, and can stash a bag or two in there. And I could simply carry a bigger shoulder bag - one that would accommodate a scrunched-up cotton shopping bag or two - and put purchases in both the portable shopping bags and the oversized shoulder bag. (Huzzah! An excuse to purchase a new bag!) See? Not so hard.

And BlogHers Act Canada, as always, is encouraging flexibility and creativity in this challenge. If you can't eliminate shopping bags entirely, no problem: just find ways to re-use and recycle. When given the option, I opt for paper bags, which - although not much, if at all, better than plastic in terms of the environmental impact from their production - are infinitely re-usable, especially when one has children. They make awesome pretend shopping bags and purses for imaginative small persons - plastic bags just aren't safe for this - and can be used in many different crafts (a little crayon and colored paper and paste and kiddy scissors and you have a great Kiddy Carnival mask.) But if you find yourself stuck with plastic, there're still other uses for it. Keep some with you for dirty-diaper toting when you're out and there's no easy disposal. Or for doggy-poop scooping. Or make hats with them.

In fact, if you can get creative with re-using and/or recycling your bags, BlogHers Act Canada - with some help from our collaborators at Green Mom Finds and the League of Maternal Justice - has prizes and props for you:

We realize that this is an uphill battle. Maybe your family has a mountain of plastic bags stashed somewhere at home. If this is the case, how creative can you get with them? Can you find an alternative use for those evil plastic bags? Gather all of the plastic bags from around your home and do something with them. Make a tote bag. Make a hat. Anything. Then, take a photo of your creation and blog about it. Or, take a photo that shows how you deal with those plastic shopping bags in another way, like recycling them. Don’t forget to comment back here by February 15th, when a random draw of participants will determine three winners of a Greenloop reusable shopping bag, courtesy of the lovely ladies at Green Mom Finds. Good luck!

I'm making a hat, for sure. Eco-activism and good sun safety all in one go. Damn, am I virtuous.

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