Much to my delight it seem more and more grocery stores and markets are discontinuing the use of plastic bags. They are giving you options of bringing your own bag, sometimes offering an incentive for doing so or paying for the brown paper bag most of us grew up with. The horrible realities of years of using the plastic bags are finally hitting home.
- They rarely get recycled. If you have any lying around our house and or they are still used in your area consider taking them to your local food bank so they can be reused.
- Only 1 percent of plastic bags are recycled in the United States. The rest end up in landfills, the ocean, or some other place in the environment. There’s actually a giant garbage heap made mostly of plastic floating in the ocean that’s twice the size of the United States.
- They are harmful to our environment and to animals.
- Plastic bags take anywhere from 15 to 1000 years to decompose.
- It’s estimated that 1 million birds and thousands of turtles and other sea animals die each year after ingesting discarded plastic bags.
- More than 10 percent of washed-up debris polluting the U.S. coastline is made up of plastic bags.
- They are made from petroleum oil.
- It takes 12 million barrels of oil to produce the estimated 100 billion plastic bags Americans use each year.
- The petroleum used to produce 14 plastic bags can drive a car one mile.
So if you are like me and chose to bring your own reusable bags to the grocery think about this. They need to be cleaned! The re-useable bags are sturdy. But, some people have dirty, unsanitary bags.
Easy to clean:
- Turn your bag inside-out. Shake-out debris, receipts
- Place several bags in your washing machine
- Change the setting to small, cold water, add soap (if your bag is heavily soiled, I suggest washing with hot water at least once)
- Wash on delicate
- Hang to dry
- Clean your bags after several uses
Once you’ve gotten in the habit of cleaning and using your bags, designate certain bags for certain uses; perhaps your red bag is for meats and your green bag is for veggies, you get the idea. At the check-out counter, separate veggies from meats and processed boxed foods from cleaning chemicals. Bring enough clean bags for your goods to encourage good food safety. And, give the clerk a hand, help bag your items if they need help.
The reusable grocery bags come in a variety of styles, colors and materials. It is a great thing to do for the environment. Remember – Every little bit helps!