In June 2009 a plastic bag at the grocery store started to cost us a shiny nickel. At first I wondered how I would survive without these bags. I didn't need them for carrying our groceries but rather for use around the house. I used them to put our cat litter in, for bathroom waste, for my lunch bag (seriously WTH Jen). I remember wondering what I was going to do when my "stash" of bags ran out.
Oh silly 2009 Jen. 2+ years later and I don't even know why I would need a plastic shopping bag. I use paper bags (like wine bags, bags from chinese food take out, mushroom bags) for our cat litter, which we can now compost. I don't use a bag at all for our bathroom waste. 99% of it is recycled or composted now so we just throw it right in the bin and then sort it when it is full. For my lunch bag I take a reusable bag. I may occasionally still use a plastic bag if I don't want the milk for my protein shake to spill all over the place but I reuse that bag over and over again.
We still have room for improvement though. Any plastic bags that we do have I have put away to take them to be recycled. Lots of stores take them back now (grocery stores, Walmart etc) and use them to make other products. I also would love to get to the point where we don't put our garbage into a kitchen sized bag and then into a black garbage bag. We fill up a kitchen sized bag every 2 weeks so it is feasible to just put that out on the curb but I always seem to rip the bag pulling it out of the trash can. So instead it goes into a black garbage bag in the garage and once a month that bag goes out to the curb. I either need to improve my skills at pulling it out of the trash can or don't use a bag at all in there and then dump it straight into a black garbage bag. I am pretty sure I like option 1 better (and I am sure Joe would agree).
Obviously the best thing we can all do is look for products that do not contain plastic bags but sometimes this is just not realistic. Here are some other plastic bags to think about:
Water softener/cat litter/milk/bread bags - check if they can be recycled in your city.. I thought that the water softener bags could be in our region but they didn't get take the 2 times I put them out. Instead I used them the following weeks in the place of a garbage bag. If you can't recycle them at the curb look for a store run recycling program. If you have really cut back on your waste production you can use a bread or milk bag to hold your weekly garbage.
Ziplock bags - we have no need for the sandwich sized bags. I have 2 reusable bags instead. We do however use the freezer bags still for our meat. I wash and reuse them over and over again though.
Produce bags - I reuse the same ones over and over again (plan on buying reusable ones soon). Make sure if you do this that you do not tie a tight knot in them or else you may have to rip them open.
Cereal/cracker bags - I think these would be great to use for crafts. They are crinkly enough that you could use them for stuffing inside of something (just make sure it isn't something that a young kid will put in their mouth).
What do you do with plastic bags? Does your region have a fee for plastic bags at stores?
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