I moved from a city with stores that would bag my groceries with three plastic bags to a city where they are banned (thank you, Austin). While my family and I tried to consciously reuse the endless plastic bags we would receive in New York City, at the end of their life they would still end up being disposed. Even the local food coop would try to use “biodegradable” plastic bags but they weren’t accepted at our local compost collection. Single-use plastic bags pollute our oceans and are very dangerous for marine life if they become entangled in them. Plastic bags are just as dangerous on land because they can take hundreds of years to breakdown leaving them harmful to wildlife and soil. According to the EPA, we use over 380 billion plastic bags yearly and less than 5 percent are recycled in the United States.
There are 6 cities within the US with plastic bag bans:
Los Angeles, CA
San Francisco, CA
There are also a number of cities that have plastic bag fees and there are arguments on which is more effective. Since I have lived in Austin, the bag ban has made me much more self aware on my use of plastic bags. When a family member visits me and my husband, they often laugh at us for washing out our plastic ziplock bags, drying them and reusing them. Here are some of my favorite reusable bag options that have helped cut down plastic use in my home.
1) Reusable cloth grocery bags. You can find these in almost any market and several of the ones I own were given to me at events. The trick is to keep them in your car or near your front door so that you don’t forget them.
2) Stasher bags. These silicone reusable bags are safe for people and the planet. They are also much easier to clean than ziplocks.
3) Reusable organic cotton drawstring produce bags. Think of all of the plastic bags you use to put your produce in when you grocery shop every week. These are ideal for produce shopping and shopping from the bulk bins.
Try your best to recycle your plastic bags and then make the switch to reusable!