It’s now a trend: the reusable grocery bag. I am beginning to see grocery stores selling canvas bags for $1 a piece. I fathom that those prices will increase when (or if the “pay a quarter per plastic bag” law passes).

WholeFoods has already taken a step towards this “banning plastic at the checkout” concept. By Earth Day, April 22, 2008 their 270 U.S., Canadian, and British based stores will be officially asking their customers “What type of reusable bag do you have today?” instead of “Paper or plastic?”

But before many of us jump on the bandwagon, why not look at a few statistics on plastic first? According to the American Chemistry Council:

  1. 2,000 plasic bags weigh 30 pounds vs 2,000 paper bags weigh 280 pounds. Therefore, plastic bags take up less landfill.
  2. Delivery of paper bags vs plastic bags: seven trucks vs only truck to deliver the same amount of plastic bags. This means less energy and less emissions into the environment.
  3. The manufacture of paper bags uses 70% more air emissions than plastic bags.
  4. Plastic bags generate 80% less waste than paper bags.
  5. 815 Million pounds of plastic and film was recycled in 2006 – an increase of 24% from 2005.

So what’s all this hype on banning plastic bags in grocery stores about? Even retailers such as Walmart offer plastic bag collection bins at the front of the store. The problem is, we as a society in general do not recycle enough. Don’t you see all those poor beat up plastic bags hanging from the tree branches? No, they are budding flowers. In the US alone, approximately 100 Billion bags are used per year, of which most ends up sitting in our landfills for 1,000 years.

And I haven’t even said my prayers for all those innocent marine animals that choked and died from eating pieces of plastic. You would think that they would know the difference between jellyfish and plastic but apparently, they don’t.

So what’s the catch-all solution? BYOB: Bring Your Own Bag (Sorry party animals. In this case, the acronym does not mean bring your own beer).

If you want to jump on the BYOB bandwagon, and don’t want to spend a lot of money on buying one or want to bring a trendy looking one, here are some places where you can find great patterns on creating your own reusable shopping bags. But you may need to know how to sew, knit or crochet. – Keep a wallet-sized fold-up shopping bag with you at all times.
Creative Kismet – Shows you how to turn your old pillowcases into a cute shopping bag. – Download easy to follow instruction on how to sew your own cloth bag. – A knitted grocery bag for a cottony shopping experience.

Bring Your Own Bag. What an excellent concept.

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