Those are some, but not all, of our reusable bags. I just grabbed the ones I could find easily. Lately I've been encouraged by this story about Target and CVS promoting the use of reusable bags, but at the same time I'm still surprised and saddened by how many people still use plastic bags at the supermarket.
If they knew the cost of those bags on the environment, I don't think they would do it. Sure, some of them wouldn't care if every baby seal on earth was strangled by their plastic beer rings. But most people would be shocked and alarmed and immediately buy a reusable bag. I think a lot of people just think it's some kind of a scam to charge them more money.
I recently read this fact on my friend Leigh's blog, Compact by Design:
"An estimated 1 million birds and 100,000 sea turtles and other marine animals die of starvation each year after ingesting discarded plastic bags which block their digestive tracks."
Oh, that's so sad. Why, oh why, is it so hard to stop the madness?
If you're like me with the stupid paper towels, and have a hard time developing this habit, here are a few tips that helped me. I switched over several years ago and virtually never need to use the plastic anymore. The key is to have plenty of bags and to remember to bring them into the store.
1. Buy bags every chance you get, in lots of different sizes. If you only have big bags, you might not bring them in for just a few items, or if you only have small bags, you won't use them for larger items. My husband and I both have huge IKEA bags in our car (although I haven't used mine during my Compact year), and we each have lots of different-sized bags in our car, and in several rooms in the house. My husband keeps a few on the back of his office door, and I keep a bunch in my armoire. But the main thing is to have them in the car trunk. That way you can use them for any kind of shopping.
2. Once you get in the habit, it will be easy to remember to grab a bag when you're walking into a store. But until you do, make sure they're always in the car. If you've left some in the house and forgotten to return them to the car, it won't matter if you have five other bags in the car.
3. If you realize you've forgotten your bags while you're in the store, go back out to your car and get them. You'll probably only need to do this once.
4. If you only have one or two items, you don't need a bag at all. We've been so trained that we need bags for everything, and that's fine if they're reusable cotton, but NOT if they're plastic.
Until they completely stop making plastic bags, you can do your part by getting a few reusable ones. If you don't like the idea of paying for them, I'm sure you can pick some up for free somewhere. Many of mine come from environmental organizations I donate to.
Do you use reusable canvas bags? What are some of your tips for making it a habit? Please share your thoughts in the Comments section.