Why You Should Use Reusable Grocery Bags
Updated: Jun 29, 2020
Approximately 150 million plastic bags end up in our oceans and waterways each year, contributing to an estimated eight million tonnes of plastic dumped into the ocean
In Australia single-use plastic shopping bags with a thickness of 35 microns or less are banned from all retail outlets, including supermarkets, fashion stores, fast food outlets, pharmacies, service stations and many more.
The single-use plastic bag ban has been introduced following extensive community consultation on tackling plastic pollution, which showed significant support, with 96 per cent in favour of the ban.
Whilst consumers can purchase re-useable plastic bags in store now to use to carry their products home your adding 15 cents per bag which can add up over year. Coles and Woolworths gained an additional 71 million in profit by replacing free lightweight plastic bags with heavier 15 cent options. However bringing your own reusable bags to the store has greater benefits to the environment and the household budget. While they cost a little more up front, there are many benefits of reusable bags, particularly when it comes to easing plastic bag pollution, the effects of plastic on the environment and adding to the profits of our largest retailers.
Just why are plastic bags bad for the environment? There are a number of reasons. From their production to their lack of recyclable qualities or their tendency to end up in landfills rather than in the many years they take to decompose, plastic bags pose a lot of problems when it comes to the world’s well-being.
Whilst paper bags avoid some of the pitfalls of plastic bags because paper bags can be recycled and take less time to decompose if they don’t make it to a landfill. Even so, paper bags are made either from trees, which are important to conserve, or from recycled material, which can take a lot of energy to produce.
Those are some of the reasons to use reusable bags rather than paper or plastic bags, but let’s take a look at some of the more specific benefits of reusable bags, the negative impact of plastic bag pollution, and a few other reasons it’s a good idea to bring your own bag.
1. Conserve Resources
Though they seem small and light, plastic bags have a much larger environmental footprint than you may imagine, beginning with the energy required to make them.
2. Decrease Pollution
The effects of plastic on the environment can be devastating. Plastic products such as plastic bags can take between 15 and 1,000 years to break down, and that’s assuming they even make it into a landfill instead of winding up in water such as streams, rivers or the ocean — or floating around the streets. Coles & Woolworths gave away more than 5.7 millon single use bags prior to their ban with less than 1 percent being recycled.
3. Avoid Recycling Problems
Even where good intentions lead someone to recycle their plastic grocery bags, a lot of recycling equipment can’t handle the task. Often bags get snagged on conveyors belts and wheels, clogging the machinery; they can be difficult to separate from other recycled products; or they end up drifting to other parts of the recycling plant — or even end up outside of the plant. The best option for recycling these bags is to take them to a specific drop-off center for plastic bags; these can sometimes be found at your local supermarket.
4. Protect Wildlife
More than 100,000 marine animal deaths are caused each year when marine animals mistake plastic shopping bags in the ocean for food, according to SPREP.org. Plastic bags also get snagged in trees, and small animals can become trapped in them, leaving to even more wildlife deaths in the environment.
5. Enjoy Strength and Durability
Unlike plastic bags, reusable bags are unlikely to have their handle tear off or to develop a hole if the corner of a box or other sharp products press into them. Reusable bags are easier to use for both loading and unloading groceries, and your purchases are more likely to survive the trip to and from the store. Leaks are less likely to be a problem with reusable bags, and it’s easier to control where reusable bags have been and what germs they may carry.
6. Save Money
Many stores in Australia now charge customers for plastic bags. While 10-15 cents doesn’t feel like a lot to spend, consider how quickly that adds up when you use five or ten bags with each trip to the store.
7. Re-Purpose For Other Uses
Reusable grocery bags can be used for a lot more than carrying groceries. A nice reusable bag is essentially a structured tote bag, and can be used for many of the things you’d use a tote bag for. You can pack your lunch in them, use them to carry snacks on a road trip, take books to and from the library, etc.
8. Because You Can
If it’s hard to imagine life without plastic grocery bags,but consider this: plastic grocery bags were first introduced in supermarkets in 1977. Generations of people over hundreds of years got along just fine using their own bags to carry their purchases.
When it comes to plastic bags vs. reusable bags, the choice is obvious. Check out some options @ thesensitivehome.com
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