Sunday, April 27, 2008

Plastic Bag Soapbox

I was delighted by some pastel string shopping bags that were spotlighted in one of my favorite magazines -- Romantic Homes (April 2008 issue, theme: French Style, ooh, la, la!).

These are the fiesta-colored bags and I like them even better. And, although I love to shop, and I love pretty things, the website where these are for sale -- Reusable Bags -- is disturbing. This website, in addition to selling attractive, reusable shopping bags, is devoted to informing the public about the environmental dangers of plastic bags. At the top of the web page, there is a counter of the plastic bags being consumed this year and about 100,000 are added each 30 seconds or so. I was feeling pretty smug about my plastic bag usage, because, after all, I recycle. Or so I thought . . . recycling these flimsy plastic bags is not economically lucrative and, instead of recycling, many are sent to third world countries to be incinerated.

I have been carting my water to work in a reusable plastic bottle, taking my sandwiches in reusable plastic containers, but ditching the shopping bags was something to do in the future, when it became a priority, when I wasn't busy with other things. Well, after reading this, it has become a priority.

It's hard. Stores have set up check out stations to be efficient and immediately on scanning your purchases, cashiers automatically put them into a plastic bag. I have to ask them to remove them because "See, I have my own reusable bag . . .that you sold me . . .with your store's logo on it."

We need to become aware of what we are doing to the Earth. Check the website, check your conscience. Buy some pretty string bags (made of organic cotton -- but that's another story).