Earth Challenge

Reusable Grocery Bags

Author: Kayla Phaneuf

Single-use plastic bags can have a drastic effect on the environment. Did you know it could take 500+ years for a plastic bag to decompose in a landfill? (Biological Diversity) The manufacturing of plastic bags is also dangerous because of the pollution the production causes and the use of trees for the product itself. (Forbes) Not to mention, plastic bags that end up in oceans can harm and kill sea animals. 

Americans use 14 billion plastic grocery bags a year and only 1% are returned for recycling. (WM) So what can we do about it? Here are three ways you can reduce your use of plastic bags and create a better environmental impact:

  1. Return your single-use plastics – Because plastic bags are made with plastic film, most local recycling companies do not accept them. Film plastic is difficult to recycle. However, many grocery stores will take back your plastic bags and send them to the recycling companies that can recycle film plastic to create park benches, playgrounds, decks, and many more things. Next time you go grocery shopping and bring home your groceries in single-use plastic bags, instead of storing them under your kitchen counter or in your garage, put them all into one bag and store them in your car. That way, when you return to the grocery store, you already have the bags with you to recycle properly. 
  2. Use cardboard boxes or bins – Stores like Costco and Aldi will reuse the boxes from their food deliveries. Instead of buying new totes and reusable grocery bags, why not use what you already have at home? This is a great way to reuse large cardboard boxes and plastic bins you may have sitting around. Keep your boxes in the back of your vehicle or in an easy place to remember to bring them with you. You can either bring your boxes into the store with you or keep them in your car and unload your groceries from the cart straight into the boxes. 
  3. Bring your own grocery bags – One of the most common alternatives to single-use plastics is to bring your own totes or reusable grocery bags to the store with you. If you’re making a short trip or only buying a few things, this is especially easy because you can carry the bag with you around the store and fill it up. 

Remember, even some of the smallest habit changes can have a positive impact on the environment. Challenge yourself and your family to give up single-use plastic bags and work hard to build habits that will help the longevity of our planet.