The Plastic Bag Debacle

October 22, 2008

A lot of governments have been talking about banning the use of plastic bags for groceries/shopping. San Francisco was the first in 2007, and the cities of Winnipeg and Vancouver are moving towards an outright ban as well. In January of this year, China took a radical step and banned the bags altogether for the entire country.

The question is, what will people use to dispose of their garbage in their homes once plastic bags are banned? Paper garbage bags are also a plausible solution, since they are biodegradable, but what about the use of trees for this alternative? If paper bags are introduced for the disposing of garbage, the government will have to think about legislation mandating that paper garbage bags be made of recyclable materials.

Practically speaking, though, even paper garbage bags may not be the answer. It is difficult to imagine throwing out kitchen waste, which can be often grimy and damp (Think: greasy residue or rotting leftovers) into a paper bag, which would most-likely end up leaving a mess in the garbage bin under the sink.

It seems that biodegradable bags may have to be the answer, and will raise the cost of garbage bags for consumers who rely on free grocery bags for disposal purposes. Biodegradable bags are avaibale at EcoSafe, which is avaiable to both US and Canadian consumers. They charge $3.99 Canadian for 30 medium sized biodegradable bags.

As of now, with plastic bags still in circulation, enviro-conscious shoppers can purchase reusable bags for their groceries and other shopping needs. Just a few retailers who offer this relatively inexpensive option at the check-outs are Bluenotes, Safeway, Co-op, Zellers, and Wal-Mart. These reusable bags are also available for purchase online, and come in stylish options for those who do not just want an inexpensive, green alternative but also want to make a statement. http://Bringyourownbag.caoffers satchels with slogans such as “Live Like You Give a Damn”, and David Brower’s quote “There is no business to be done on a dead planet.” These sassy totes start at $15.00 and will spread the word that plastic is not okay.

To bridge the gap between the new, plastic-free world we strive for, and today, we have come up with a list of ways to re-use plastic bags you may have lying around the house–your own personal recycling program:

Ten Ways to Reuse Plastic Bags

1) Use plastic bags to clean up after your pet. You know what we mean. No one wants to step in your dog’s poop, and it’s better than having the bags clogging up space underneath your sink.

2) Use them to line waste-paper bins in your home. If they’re just for paper and other non-messy items, you can reuse them again and again.

3) Do your community a favour: gather together a group of neighbours, take your plastics, and go on litter patrol. Your kids will thank you for it.

4) Need to pad a parcel with Christmas just around the corner? Use the bags to stop the kids from telling what you got them by shaking their gifts. Not only does it lead to waste reduction, but it sends the message that others should be thinking of ways to reuse and recyling too.

5) This year, instead of sending your kids out with plastic pumpkins or vinyl trick-or-treating bags, have them use plastic grocery bags instead, for a green Halloween.

6) This one is rather obvious. Bring your plastic bags back to the grocery store and use them to shop again. Alternately, some stores now have plastic bag recycling programs. Ask around at your supermarket. If they don’t have one, petition to start one.

7) Instead of buying brown paper bags for your lunch, take it in a plastic grocery bag and save some trees as well as some money.

8 ) Use them to wrap shampoos and lotions in your suitcase when you’re travelling. You’ll avoid the messy explosion.

9) Take them to the gym and stash your wet bathing suit and loofah in them after your swim in the pool.

10) Avoid making a mess on your floor. Lay down the bags when painting your nails,  helping the kids with an art project or anything else that might leave a stain.

Let’s all work together for a cleaner, greener world!

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