One of the easiest - and most impactful - things any individual can do to 'go green' is to stop using plastic or paper grocery bags. It's cheap. It's easy. And if everyone made the switch, the impact on natural resources would be huge.
Here are some things you may not know about plastic bags:
In a landfill, plastic bags take up to 1,000 years to degrade. As litter, they breakdown into tiny bits, contaminating our soil and water.
The energy needed to manufacture and transport disposable bags eats up more resources and creates global warming emissions.
Annual cost to US retailers alone is estimated at $4 billion...costs that are passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices.
Don't be fooled into thinking that the paper grocery bags are any better. There is little difference between the two and the production of paper bags is greatly affecting our forests. It also takes MORE energy and raw materials to produce a paper bag than a plastic bag.
I keep four reusable bags in my car so that they are handy for pitstops at the pharmacy, the grocery store or any other shopping stop. Some stores, like Wild Oats, will even give you a slight monetary credit for using a reusable bag. Many sell them right there at the register! There are also a number of resuable bags that can serve double duty - when you buy one your money is helping a global fund or charity.
For example, the World Programe FEED Bag (http://www.feedprojects.org/). It has a higher price point than your average reusable bag, but purchasing one FEED bag will feed a schoolchild for one year through the UN World Food Programme. Plus it's reversable so it's two bags in one!
Amazon.com has a fabulous selection of reusable bags, such as the one I'm using in the photo. Another great resource is Reusable Bags, which has a staggering "ticker" of the number of plastic bags consumed this year at the top of its home page. (It's in the billions!)
A few other links are below. Here's an idea, the next time you get someone a gift instead of purchasing a traditional paper gift bag put the gift in one of these stylish resuable bags instead. It's the gift that keeps on giving!
One Bag at a Time - Great Designs and Customization Available
Amazon.com - Reusable Bags
Reuse This Bag - Offers customization for corporate events
ShagBag - For the Stylish Shopper
VP, NBC.com Content and Development