Green Life Project is a weekly series of posts highlighting one change for readers to make in their life in order to gradually green their lives.
This week’s Green Life Project action item is to purchase and begin using reusable grocery bags.
We’re in week three of a year-long quest toward a greener lifestyle. If you’re just joining us, it’ll be easy to catch up — and you can do so at your own pace!
This week, we have another simple step you can take toward more sustainable living! The next time you’re at the grocery store, be it your Jewel, Trader Joe’s, Wal-Mart, Whole Foods — no matter what your typical place for groceries, buy one or two reusable grocery bags and begin using them! We’ve discussed this before, and now it’s part of your year-long journey toward a more sustainable you!
Plenty of choices!
You can get different sizes — some stores even offer insulated ones that will help keep your food cold until you get it home! Additionally, they come in different styles and formats. You can almost always find a color that suits your taste; some are made from recycled plastic and others are made of cotton. If you tend to buy more groceries, buy a few more so that you have enough to cover the needs of most shopping trips.
Still, others are made from polyester and designed to fold up into a very compact carrying case so that you don’t mind having it in your pocket or purse. I have opted for a few bags made from recycled plastic, woven into new carrying bags from Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, one of which can pretty much always be found in my briefcase, for times when I decide to stop by the store after work. I don’t drive, but you can always stock a few in your car or bag so that they’re always with you for that impromptu shopping trip!
They might cost a dollar or two when you start, but you immediately begin to eliminate unnecessary garbage in the sense that fewer plastic and paper bags will be produced on your behalf. Yes, those products can be recycled, but that is a carbon-intensive pursuit and most do not end up being recycled! Plastic comes from oil in most cases and paper comes from trees! We need those trees for CO2 absorption and habitat!
This is one of the easiest steps you can take toward more sustainable living. Don’t know how many bags you use in a year? Think about how many you throw into the garbage or stuff into your closet (or beneath the sink!).
A couple of figures:
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (via reusablebags.com), more than 380 billion plastic bags are used in the United States every year. Of those, approximately 100 billion are plastic shopping bags, which cost retailers about $4 billion annually.
Some retailers even give bonuses!
Whole Foods will credit you $0.10 for every bag you use — passing on to you a bit of the savings from you not taking a paper bag! They give you the option of donating that dime to a charity, too, if you so choose! It isn’t much, but you recoup the cost of the bag and then start saving that much every time you go.
Trader Joe’s will often enter your name in a raffle for a free bag of groceries if you use a reusable bag, as well.
Do you know of other bonuses for taking this initiative?
So, this is week three — we’ll check back next week with a new task and to see how you’re doing! Until then, this week’s groceries should come home in a reusable bag! Go!
Don’t forget to chart your progress using a calendar!