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Plastic shopping bags polluting New York

  1. Apr 13, 2007 #1
    Should disposable plastic shopping bags be banned in New York - they get stuck in trees and all over the place? Wouldn't it be better for the environment if we were all made to bring our own reuseable bags to shops - just like we did years ago?
     
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  3. Apr 13, 2007 #2

    cristo

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    This isn't just a problem in New York! Over here in the UK, one of the major supermarkets has started a scheme to encourage people to reuse carrier bags. However, I think that the sorts of people who would drop carrier bags on the floor, wouldn't take their own bags into the shop to use, so I doubt it'll help in that sense!
     
  4. Apr 13, 2007 #3

    turbo

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    My wife keeps an assortment of canvas bags with handles in her car all the time. Whenever she shops, all the stuff comes home in those bags. They are very sturdy and they won't rip like plastic or paper and since she has used them every week for years, she has kept a lot of stuff out of the waste stream. If everybody would buy a few cloth/canvas bags to shop with that would be a nice start. Unfortunately, most people don't bother.
     
  5. Apr 13, 2007 #4

    JasonRox

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    San Francisco banned plastic bags.
     
  6. Apr 13, 2007 #5
    Yea , I hate those things. In the desert they blow around and get stuck in the cactus and stay there forever. It isn't unusaull although to see one or two caught up in a dust devil and spinning around 200 feet up in the air.:grumpy:
     
  7. Apr 13, 2007 #6

    dlgoff

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    And they're in the fields of Kansas. I guess they just disk them under before planting.
     
  8. Apr 14, 2007 #7

    Ivan Seeking

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    In Holland you have to take your own bags when shopping. That fixes things pretty well. Of course, this sure left me red in the face the first time I went shopping... esp given my limited understanding of Dutch.

    Another solution would be to require a deposit on bags as is done with bottles.

    I wonder which requires the least amount of energy to recycle per bag - paper or plastic? What is the dust to dust [lifetime] energy requirement per bag?
     
  9. Apr 14, 2007 #8

    Moonbear

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    I don't know, but I preferred the paper bags with handles that the stores had for a while. Packed right, I can get far more into a paper bag than those plastic bags, so even if it uses more energy to recycle or manufacture, I use less of them overall.

    I also had other uses for paper bags that I don't have for plastic bags before tossing them to the trash (we have no means of recycling the plastic bags here...the paper bags were also perfect for collecting the newspapers for recycling and then it all got recycled together). For example, instead of using paper towels to absorb grease from fried foods, I used to cut up paper bags. So, I saved on yet another use of paper products by reusing the paper bag.

    But, finally, the grocery store near here is having some sort of contest to cut down on use of plastic bags (I don't know if it's a community thing, or a storewide thing to cut back on waste or what). The people working the checkout counters can win some extra money as a prize if they use the least bags or cut back use or something (I didn't get all the details, they were just chatting about it while I was having my order rung up yesterday). But, the nice thing about it is that they finally (FINALLY!!!) took care to pack the bags efficiently, so I actually had full bags, not 3 items per bag when the kids get lazy bagging. The way this grocery store is set up, there's no way to bag your own groceries, so it has been something that has driven me crazy since I started shopping here, and even prompted me to write to the store to tell them it's such a waste of bags and frustrating to the customer to not be able to bag their own groceries if the people doing the bagging don't know what they're doing. My solution for a while was that I'd rebag things before taking them home and leave all the extra bags in the shopping cart for them to deal with...I figured if nothing else works, maybe that would get them the hint that they're using too many bags.

    I'm not so sure about using reusable bags though. How do you know how many to bring with you? And how do you remember to bring them, especially if you just realize you have a little extra time to make a run to the grocery store on your way home from something else? I wouldn't want to have a bunch of bags always taking up space in my trunk, or needing to store them somewhere in the house to clutter up everything. And what about when you buy things like meat that leak? I don't want to reuse a bag after it had blood drip all over it, or contaminate new food with whatever got on the bag after the last order and had time to grow in between. Plus, the grocery store has some canvas bags for sale, but they're pretty small...kind of the size of the plastic bags. If I'm going to buy bags to reuse, I want something a more decent size so I don't need so many of them.

    What I really like are the stores that instead of bags, use the boxes that are left from everything being shipped to them. That way, instead of just sending the boxes for recycling, you can package your groceries in them, they're nice and sturdy to carry into the house, and you can fit a lot into them, they don't tip over in the trunk on the way home, if you need boxes for moving, you can save them, or else recycle them on your end.
     
  10. Apr 14, 2007 #9

    JasonRox

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    I use boxes. I only use bags if I only need 2 at the most. They give bags for everything these days. I say no for bags like 9 out of 10 times. Sometimes, I just forget.
     
  11. Apr 15, 2007 #10

    turbo

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    You don't have to know how many to take with you. When we are done unpacking the groceries, we pack all the bags into a single bag and toss that bag into the trunk. When my wife goes shopping, she puts that bag o' bags in the shopping cart, and uses as many as necessary to pack the stuff up. Concerning leaks: Just toss the bags in the laundry.
     
  12. Apr 15, 2007 #11

    Moonbear

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    So, how many bags do you own? And how do you deal with the idiots at the grocery store who want to pack one item per bag? Personally, I'd like to hit them over the head with the bag of canned goods, but since that's frowned upon, I'm not going to spend a small fortune for reusable bags so they can be completely inefficient about packing them.
     
  13. Apr 15, 2007 #12

    turbo

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    We have at least 10 cloth bags, including a couple of oversized ones suitable for light stuff like paper towels, tissue, breakfast cereal, bread, rolls, chips. They're all machine-washable, so if they get dirty, we throw them into the next load of laundry. Generally, a weeks worth of groceries, cleaning supplies, snacks and drinks will fill up about 5-6 of the smaller bags. The local supermarket sells cloth bags pretty cheap. They've got the chain's logo on them so you're advertising for them, and of course they save money on bags every time you bring your own bags to shop with, so they have an incentive to sell them pretty cheaply. We've also got a heavy canvas tote from LL Bean, though they are too expensive to stock up on. It is really great for heavy stuff, because the handles are nice and wide and comfortable. There is a local store that sells mostly clothing, but they have hit-and-miss specials on canned salmon, crab, condiments, etc, we tend to stock up the pantry when that happens. That's a perfect time to have the LL Bean tote available.

    Whenever our younger family members have baby showers, housewarming parties, etc, my wife gives them a couple of nice fold-up reusable totes in addition to her regular gifts. She just gave a couple of them to our niece at a baby shower yesterday and when she pulled them out of the gift bag, she looked a little puzzled and her older sister (who had already been on the receiving end herself) said "Those totes are great! You're going to love them." She also pointed out that since they are having children, it's a good idea to save resources so the world might be a better place for them.

    Another niece is having a baby shower in a few weeks, and along with the baby gifts, she's getting some totes, too. My wife and I are pretty sold on recycling/re-using and since these 20-something kids are getting pinched pretty hard at the supermarket, they may not be motivated to spend more money for re-usable bags when they get to the checkout. We're just cutting out that barrier, and once they get in the habit of taking their totes shopping, they buy more on their own because it makes them aware of the good they're doing by not throwing away bags every time they shop. Giving these bags away to family is a gentle, non-preachy form of persuasion, and it works.
     
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