26 June 2008

Extolling the virtues of the reusable grocery bag.

Reusable bags. A topic very close to my heart, because I spend so much time bagging groceries.

They aren't limited to the handled bags sold at the grocery, your own backpack or canvas tote bag is as good. Even bringing back the "disposable" (okay, I detest this description but that's another topic altogether) bags is better than getting new ones on every grocery trip. According to TreeHugger, the average plastic shopping bag is only used for 20 minutes and takes at least 500 years to degrade.

Do not get discouraged and believe that your action will get lost in the world of overconsumption. There is a growing movement towards greening one's lifestyle. In the past few years - okay, even just in the past several months! - I have noticed more grocery stores selling reusable bags and offering incentives for using them, usually something like 5 cents taken off the bill. They cost about a dollar each, so if you use them regularly they pay for themselves. Reusable grocery bags are now available in most mainstream supermarkets such as Giant, Safeway, and Harris Teeter. It works for them because it saves some money and gets them free advertising, too.

Working in a grocery store, I see that every week more people start reusing bags. It's really a snowball effect here. The more people bringing along their bags, the more visible this option becomes, and the more it becomes the norm. I actually get customers stepping up to my register with their food and apologizing for forgetting their shopping bag. The guilt isn't necessary, but it's definitely positive that bringing one's bag is more expected.
We go through so many paper/plastic bags each day, it is unbelievable. So every person who brings their bags is helping. Hey, it's not the end-all and be-all, but it is a simple change to make. Because remember this: reduce and reuse before recycling! Just a note from your friendly grocery store worker.

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