If you haven’t made the switch or even considered the idea of reusable shopping bags, it’s time to have a change of mind. Many homes today are choosing it over single-use plastic bags. Every year, up to 2.41 million tons of plastic enter into our oceans. If you think that’s not a problem, remember that our waters are a very essential part of our lives. It is a natural resource we cannot do without.
Reusable Shopping Bags: Ocean Pollution
With the massive amount of plastic in our oceans, it is important that we speed up efforts to clean it up. Plastics constitute a huge threat and damage to human lives, animals, and the environment. With more public awareness, more people are now seeing that cutting down on plastic or replacing them with reusable items is a good way to go. One of these moves to replace plastic with durable materials is to use reusable shopping bags.
Reusable Shopping Bags: Durability
A reusable shopping bag is a type of carrier that can be used multiple times. It is an alternative to single-use paper or plastic bags. It is usually made from fabric such as canvas, natural fibers such as Jute or woven synthetic fibers. This allows for multiple uses and ultimately reduces the amount of plastic waste produced daily.
Reusable Shopping Bags: Eco-Friendly
Reusable shopping bags are totes that are very good for use while shopping for groceries. You can purchase them from supermarkets and apparel shops. One reusable bag requires the same amount of energy to be produced as an estimated 28 traditional plastic shopping bags or eight paper bags.
According to Nick Sterling, research director at Natural Capitalism Solutions, “if used once per week, four or five reusable bags will replace 520 plastic bags a year.” However, the advantage is that reusable shopping bags can be used for a far greater number of times before being thrown away. This is in contrast to single-use plastic bags.
Here are the six reasons you need to start using reusable shopping bags now:
Efficiency and Effectiveness
Reusable grocery bags are environment-friendly. You must understand their value and learn how to properly use them. They are useful for those shopping days when you wished there was an easier way to carry all those plastic bags. They are bigger, better and much more efficient. A reusable grocery bag can hold almost anything. You can also bring them with you everywhere you go so as to avoid using plastic bags.
Quality reusable shopping bags are compact. You can fold it into a size small enough to fit into your pocket. It could also fit into your purse. If you are going out in your car, ensure to take a bag with you. Also, don’t forget to bring them into the store when you stop to shop. Reusable shopping bags are comfortable to carry when walking long distances. They can hold not just groceries but any other item like a laptop or set of books. Whatever the item you place in it the bag, it will always retain its shape.
Unlike paper or plastic bags, liquids and leaks from groceries, or moisture from meat and vegetables cannot dampen a reusable bag. The leaks stay within the bag. However, it is very important to promote good hygiene by cleaning or washing your reusable shopping bag. You could wipe off the spills with a damp cloth or wash it entirely. Washing not only removes food stains but also eliminates bacteria.
Reusable shopping bags reduce the harm caused to our environment by plastics. By using them we can reduce waste and prevent harmful toxins from getting into the air and waterways. In Australia and New Zealand, reusable bags are known as green bags. These green bags introduced in the 90s are literally green in color. They are intended to be used multiple times to replace the use of hundreds of (HDPE) plastic bags. These bags can be recycled but will not biodegrade.
Reusable bags are less likely to end up in our oceans. Many plastics in our oceans end up in the food chain. Animals such as whales, dolphins, sharks, seals, turtles, and even sea birds die every year from ingesting plastic. Some marine animals mistake plastic bags for jellyfish. When ingested the plastic blocks their digestive tracks and they starve to death.
Seabirds, as well as seals and turtles, have been known to suffocate or drown from getting entangled in plastic waste. They also die from being unable to escape predators. Being entangled also brings about severe lacerations and ulcers. Marine animals could get caught in discarded fishing equipment or circular plastic packaging materials. The plastic can pierce through the animal’s flesh if it continues to grow in size.
Today, plastic overtakes cigarettes to account for the number one constituent of waste in our oceans, as a result of the high demand for plastic. Of the 300 million tons of plastic produced each year, most items are disposable. We must act fast to save our environment. The reach of plastic waste has been said to extend as far as the Arctic Circle.
Better than Paper Bags
Reusable shopping bags are the way to go because they are better than plastic bags as well as paper bags. Paper bags are not a better option when plastic fails. They are also unfair to our environment as millions of trees have to be cut down to supply the raw materials needed to produce them. With growing concerns of global warming, this is not a path we’ll be happy to tread. In addition to causing harm to the environment, paper bags also take up a lot of energy. It takes 13% more energy to make a single paper bag than to make two plastic bags.
The production of paper bags also releases harmful toxins into the atmosphere from chemicals and high temperatures. Paper bags require more fuel to be shipped to stores because they weigh almost ten times as much as plastic ones. Also, plastic bags are not the only ones that end up in our oceans and water bodies. Paper bags do too. Twenty percent of paper bags are recycled, and the atmospheric waste they produce is 2% higher than that of plastic. There is no way that they are a better option than plastic bags. Reusable bags offer much more benefits than single-use plastic.
Incentives and Legislation
Some grocery stores today are beginning to offer discounts to customers who bring their reusable bags along. Some governments also encourage or require the use of reusable shopping bags through the regulation of plastic bags with bans, recycling mandates, taxes or fees. While countries like China, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka lead the way in the production of oceanic plastic pollution worldwide, the legislation to discourage plastic bag use has passed in parts of Hong Kong, Ireland, South Africa, the United States, Canada, and Taiwan.
In the United Kingdom, reusable shopping bags are sold for a nominal price of 10 pence and replaced for free. This move was put in place by the government to ensure that packaging waste legislation was met and to encourage the recycling of the bags. A small financial incentive may also be provided for people who lessen the environmental impact by bringing back bags for recycling.
In the United States, many supermarkets encourage the use of reusable shopping bags to increase sales and profit margins. Some significant supermarkets sell string or calico bags. Some supermarket chains have rewards programs for customers who bring their shopping bags. The customers usually get discount coupons or gifts after they have collected a certain amount of points. Discounts motivate customers to reduce their plastic bag use and embrace environment-friendly options like reusable bags.
Fashionable and Abundance of Variety
For those who love to stand out from the crowd and be unique, there is a reason you should start using reusable shopping bags. Reusable bags are hip, trendy, and fashionable. It takes grocery shopping to a whole new level. Forget the boring and monotonous plastic or paper bag. Reusable shopping bags come in a variety of styles that will add that extra flavor to your personality. You can be sure to find the right reusable bag that suits your taste as they come in a wide variety of shapes and prints.
Bringing your reusable bag to the store when you go grocery shopping is also a way to create awareness. A variety of designs is one effective way of getting people’s attention. Many people notice how stylish these bags are and they eventually end up opting for it. The encouragement of reusable bags by the government as well as the apparel industry has contributed immensely to making reusable bags a new fashion trend. Making the switch to a reusable bag is not only an eco-friendly move, but it also helps you keep up with a fast-paced fashion trend.
Conservation of Natural Resources
The problem of landfills is a menace in many cities today. It makes the cities unappealing to tourists and visitors. Plastic waste is a significant cause of the many dumps we have. By opting for reusable bags, we can shun plastic use and conserve our land and water.
Resusable bags are becoming more popular and are here to stay. Don’t forget to bring your reusable bags!