The other day while at the grocery store the clerk, commenting on my canvas bags, said she loved the idea of canvas shoppers but always forgot them at home. Another gal a few weeks earlier asked me about my reusable produce bags and said she really wanted to start being more environmentally conscious but sometimes it seemed like just one more thing she had to do.
I think the trick to being more environmentally conscious is looking at it in a different way. When I started easing into sustainability I didn’t decide to do twenty things all at once. I too was like the girls at the store. I looked at it as something that tree huggers did, or environmentally conscious activists did. I was just too busy to be sustainable. That is until I got divorced. Slowly I started educating myself on what being sustainable looked like. Low and behold it wasn’t just tree huggers. It was people just like you and me doing small things that add to big impacts.
Produce bags alone make a huge impact! My flip and tumble bags (shown above) were purchased nearly three years ago. I also have reusable sandwich bags too that are just one more way to help save our planet! On average I discovered I was using ten plastic produce bags per trip to the store. Going once a week to the store I was contributing forty plastic bags going into landfills per month, just so I could bring my veggies home on a short five minute drive home. Even if I forget my bags 50% of the time I’m still preventing close to 250 bags from going into landfills. If you have a child going to school everyday they’re likely using over 200 plastic bags a year for their lunch. Reusable lunch containers are yet another great way to eliminate plastic.
Now imagine my excitement when I gifted five of my family members reusable produce bags! Combined, and assuming we forgot half of the time to bring them to the store, we are still saving over 1200 bags a year from going into landfills. And if we make a conscious effort NOT to forget we save 2500 bags a year. If they use reusable lunch bags, we save an additional 1000 bags! Now just think about that for a moment. Think about every person on this planet putting their fruits and veggies in a plastic bag just simply to bring them home. Or putting your lunch into a plastic bag just to get you to work. It doesn’t take much to make an impact.
Now consider this. I’ve been using my Flip and Tumble bags for awhile now and my reusable lunch bags just as long. Sure they are stained but my food doesn’t care. On average reusable bags have a lifespan that saves over 700 plastic bags from going into landfills. The average person uses between 300-500 plastic bags every single year! One person making the conscious effort of using reusable bags can save nearly 20,000 bags from going into landfills in their lifetime. Plus, what most people don’t consider is that plastic is lightweight and easily blows out of landfills and into our oceans, forests, and beaches where they can harm or even kill animals.
Still not convinced? Fourteen plastic bags contain enough petroleum to drive a vehicle one mile, but it takes 12 million barrels of oil to produce the plastic bags that Americans consume every year. Of the billions of bags used every year worldwide, 4 billion become litter. Small changes in conscious effort make big impacts folks.
What can you do today to make a difference?
- Use reusable bags every chance you get. In fact, be ruthless and just say no to plastic.
- If you forget your shopper avoid plastic and if you don’t need a bag, don’t use one.
- Double up on your items. If you forget your shopper, put more items in each bag to reduce the amount of bags you’re using. I’ve put as many as 11 veggies in one bag to avoid waste. The clerk hates it but I don’t care.
As I started easing into more sustainable practices it was learning the facts that made me eager to make a difference. Mama Earth is a gift and she should be treated like the Queen that she is, rather than a dumping ground for our bad habits.