Getting Rid of Plastic Bags: Is New Jersey Ready?

by Alice Magdziak • August 22, 2010 • Green Jersey, ShoppingComments (0)1413

For years now, we’ve known about the Garbage Patch of the Pacific Ocean.  It is miles and miles of swirling plastic that has made its way into the ocean and gotten caught in a whirlpool of currents.  We’ve all seen the pictures of the dead sea creatures with tummies full of plastic bits and we’ve all heard that we should cut soda can six-pack holders so that animals can’t get caught in them.  Well, marine biologists have now found the same phenomenon in the Atlantic Ocean.

So, that begs the question, “Are we ready to get rid of plastic grocery bags?”

Certainly, the garbage patches aren’t entirely made of grocery bags.  But, what if we could cut the patch by 20% simply by not giving away the bags for free?  That’s not small potatoes.

Well, in our household, we’ve switched from getting new bags every week at ShopRite to using cloth bags for each shop.

Before starting with the cloth bags, my thoughts ran toward everything that we use the plastic bags for once they are in our house and what a nightmare it would be if we ran out.  Caution: this description may not be for the faint of heart. We use the bags for kitchen waste that might get stinky if left open to the air in the garbage can.  We use them to collect “clumps” in the kitty litter box (you know what I’m talking about).  We use them to discard the filter media from our fish tank.  We use them to bring homemade lunches to work.  And, finally, in our more experimental periods, we’ve tried using them as cat waste collection and disposal systems.

Cat Waste Collection and Disposal System Experiment

That experiment only lasted while we gave Big Red treats.  Once the treats were gone, so was the bag.

So, did my nightmare of running out of bags happen?  Not at all.

As it turns out, we use the bags we get more efficiently.  We used to throw away bags and often used more than we needed.

We used to throw away the newspaper bags. now I use them in the kitchen for peelings and chicken guts.

We used to take a bag to work and throw it away there.  Now, we bring them home for re-use.

I even keep the plastic bags I use to bring home vegetables and fruit to re-use in the kitchen and at the farmers market.

So, what about you, dear readers?  Are you still using bags willy-nilly, or are you thinking about how you use them and trying to reduce/reuse/recycle?

I will admit that I was skeptical about bringing my own bags but now I’m a re-usable bag fanatic.

The best thing?  No more plastic bags digging into my hands while bringing groceries in the from the car.  Those cloth handles are FANTASTIC.

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