of you may remember our “no bag” policy from The Going Green Store days - we didnʼt give out
any disposable bags when you made a purchase. Some of you may not have
noticed, because itʼs already your habit to bring reusable shopping bags
with you. Good for you! What weʼve come to realize is that itʼs already
generally accepted that one should have reusable shopping bags. And we all have them - we just don't have them with us. We hear
apologies all the time: “Oh, Iʼm sorry, I didnʼt know I was stopping.”
Or “I forgot my bags at home.” Sometimes, the bags are in the car and
people duck outside to retrieve them. This was our goal: to retrain you!
If you never have to deal with the consequences of forgetting your bags,
youʼll never have a reason to create a new habit.
One plastic shopping bag may not seem like much, but in the
aggregate, plastic bags make a big impact! In 2008, the U.S. consumed
102,105,637,000 polyethylene disposable bags, according to the United
States International Trade Commission. On the ﬂip side, because one
little shopping bag is so inconsequential, itʼs an easy place to start.
Remembering reusable shopping bags is a habit you have complete control
over in your own life; you can make a difference without much effort.
Donʼt be a statistic! The average American uses 500 disposable
plastic bags a year, as represented by ChicoBagʼs Bag Monster. You may
have even seen the Bag Monster in The Going Green Store or at a few
local events. Itʼs an eye-catching (to say the least) representation of
just how much plastic bag trash weʼre responsible for every year.
Some plastic bags are recyclable, but theyʼre certainly one of the
more difﬁcult-to-recycle items and most recycling companies donʼt
bother, due to the expense and the very limited market for the low
quality plastic. According to the EPA only about 6% of reusable plastic
shopping bags are ever recycled. We applaud the local grocers for trying
to recycle your old bags but the sad truth is that in Central Ohio they
all will end up in a landﬁll. Plastic doesnʼt go away (degradation can
take hundreds of years), and it can have damaging effects. Much of it
ends up in our oceans. The worst example of this is the Great Paciﬁc
Garbage Patch, a “plastic soup” that spans hundreds of miles and is
distributed throughout the water column. In the ocean, plastic entraps,
suffocates and is consumed by marine life of all kinds. Sometimes, the
effects of plastic are even more severe, threatening human lives as
well. In Bangladesh, plastic bags were discovered to be the cause of the
devastating 1998 ﬂoods that killed 1000 people and destroyed 300,000
homes. It was found that millions of plastic bags had blocked drains and
waterways, and a few years later, Bangladesh became the ﬁrst country to
outlaw plastic bags altogether.
In this country, San Francisco became the ﬁrst city to ban plastic
bags in 2007. Since then, more than 200 anti-bag measures have been
introduced in the U.S. None in Ohio or Licking County yet, so you can
still be ahead of the curve - change your habit because you want to, not
because youʼre forced to. Remember your reusable bags!
L.A.'s Plastic and Paper Bag Ban is Built on Past Mistakes, Aja Dang, May 21, 2012 1:45 PM, KCET UpDaily,
Algalita Marine Research Institute, http://www.algalita.org/AlgalitaFAQs.htm
U.S. International Trade Commission. Polyethylene Retail Carrier Bags
from Indonesia,Taiwan, and Vietman. Publication 4080. May 2009, pg.