by Tammy Taylor
Many cities around the United States are trying to ban plastic single-use shopping bags. These bags are a constant source of litter, costing cities heavily from their already-restricted budget to clean up all those bags that easily blow through the city streets and into the storm drains, into our lakes and high up in the trees. I’ve had to hurry into my pasture and remove a half-eaten shopping bag from a cow’s mouth as she was struggling to swallow it, thank goodness I got to her in time. Sadly it’s the carelessness of some people with this kind of litter that affects all of us. Three cities in Texas have already banned these bags and now Dallas is considering the ban as well. Although there are some that oppose the ban, I for one applaud their decision. I developed a hate relationship with these awful plastic ‘kites’ many years ago, opting instead to bring my own easy-to-carry bags to the store with me. I’ve never experienced a problem with clerks not being able to place my purchase into my own bag and I’m often told by those clerks what a great idea it is.
It was a step-by-step change for me though. I began to see the negative environmental impact of plastic shopping bags some 10 years ago. As a result if I only purchased one or two things I would tell the clerk not to bag my purchase, I’d simply carry it out with me. I was always surprised when the clerk would exclaim “Are you SURE??” Wow, it’s like I couldn’t carry this one thing with my own two hands without it being enclosed in another plastic bag! Soon I began bringing my own sturdy bag when I went on smaller shopping trips, often sacking my own groceries on small trips with the few reusable bags I brought. Of course this was before bringing your own bags was fashionable and I got some strange looks, but it was an issue that mattered to me so I continued on.
But back in those days on larger grocery shopping trips I stayed silent & allowed them to encase my groceries into their single-use plastic bags. I guess I was just too embarrassed to ask them to use my bags for more than a couple of bags worth of groceries. (yeah I know, I’m really ashamed to admit that!) Thankfully now it’s actually fashionable to use reusable shopping bags so other than occasional times when I don’t catch the clerk in time, I haven’t brought a plastic shopping bag home in over 5 years now. (On that note, It kills me when I catch the clerk just as they pull the bag off the holder and tell them I don’t want a bag, so they remove my item and wad the plastic bag and throw it away. REALLY??)
Some people complain that since they practice the environmentally-responsible task of repurposing single-use shopping bags, so if cities banned them it would mean they’ll have to buy trash bags for their small bathroom trash cans. I’m here to tell you that you don’t! My household kitchen trash can is the same size as a small bathroom-sized one that fits small plastic shopping bags as well. But what surprises me is that even though I don’t bring home shopping bags there are STILL plenty of plastic bags that come into my home for me to use for that purpose. I now watch for other things to use such as the plastic wrapping carefully removed from a large family-pack of toilet paper or a plastic bag that once held a family-size cereal purchase. Take a look around, I’ll bet there are plenty of OTHER plastic bags that already come into your home to use in ways you were trying to re-purpose those plastic shopping bags. Put on your thinking caps and I’m sure you’ll find lots of options and feel mighty proud of yourself for your creativity and environmental care. Remember “REDUCE” comes before reuse or recycle.