Can’t Banish the Baggie Beast Altogether

May 7, 2010

Over the past few months I have made a concerted effort to reduce my use of plastic bags. I purchased a bunch of small tupperware containers for my daughter’s lunch at school, to eliminate the sandwich and snack baggies we were throwing away every day. I bring my own canvas bags shopping, so I’m not getting plastic bags from each store I go to. I don’t even put anything that I buy at the farmers’ market into separate plastic bags. It just all gets lumped together in my canvas bag.

There is one area that I cannot get rid of plastic bags though – the trash. I line all my trash bins with plastic bags. When all the small bins are full, I grab the bags and dump them in the large kitchen trash can. I just don’t know how to get around this. I refuse to not line my cans, because I don’t want to have the odor or the mess that would come from just tossing things straight into the can, where they could spill, leak, or crust to the side of the can. I suppose I could always dump the trash from the small bins into the big can when they’re full, leaving the plastic liner bag in for repeated use. Hmmm, that may not be a bad idea.

In the meantime, I have found a solution that I am comfortable with. If I cannot get rid of plastic bags altogether, at least I can use the best version possible. I noticed in the store the other day that Seventh Generation (one of my favorite natural cleanser companies), sells plastic kitchen bags, so I snatched up a box. They are tall kitchen bags (13 gallon) with a drawstring, which is exactly what I like. Only they are made from a minimum total recycled content of 55%, and a post-consumer content of 16%. The box is made from 100% recycled paper.

What difference does that make? According to Seventh Generation, “If every household in the U.S. replaced just one package of 20 count tall kitchen bags made from virgin plastic, with 55% recycled ones, we could save: 39,000 barrels of oil (enough to heat and cool 2,200 homes for a year), 72,000 cubic feet of landfill space (equal to 1,100 full garbage trucks), and avoid 15,000 tons of air pollution. Dang! Swapping out just ONE box does all that? Sounds easy enough! Not to mention the process of manufacturing from recycled material uses 40% less energy, compared to making brand new bags. This reduces the amount of carbon dioxide, and other pollutants, that are emitted into the air. Sounds good to me.

So while I’m sure it would be best if I could eliminate plastic bags from my home altogether, I have to be realistic about what I am and am not willing to do on this journey. I do not want it to ever become something that starts to feel like a hassle. The changes that I have made so far have immense benefits to both me and the environment, and are fairly easy to do. I would really like to keep it that way. I find if something becomes too difficult, or starts to feel like too much of a chore or a burden, you are more likely to quit doing it. And I would really like the positive changes I’ve made, and will continue to make over the course of this journey, to last. So if that means that instead of eliminating some practice altogether, I continue doing it, only in a better way, I can still feel good about that. 

For more information on Seventh Generation, and all of their products, visit their website. (www.seventhgeneration.com)

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