Does your household have several dozen or hundred extra plastic bags floating around? Do you have a special drawer reserved for them in your kitchen or back porch, or have you attached a stylish plastic bag holder to the inside of a cupboard door? Have you gotten to the point where there are just too many bags to bother saving? It can’t hurt the environment too much to throw a few dozen away from time to time, can it?

Guess what? Plastic bags don’t go away. Whenever they eventually do leave your house, they sit in the landfill indefinitely. They don’t break down. Well, they might eventually, but chances are we’ll all be long gone when they do.

When I moved into my new home it was “furnished” in all senses of the word, right down to a plastic bag holder jam packed with bags. Having just begun my project of Subverting Overconsumption by not buying anything new for a year, I was dismayed that the first days of the process found me burdened with more bags.

Now don’t get me wrong. Even at my most determined, remembering to bring old plastic bags (or better yet, reusable cloth ones!) along when I go grocery shopping is generally beyond me, and the reason it fails to sink into my consciousness is mysterious and profoundly confounding. So it was with immense relief and gratitude that I recently stumbled on some angels bent on saving me from being plastic wrapped into oblivion.

The staff at Eat Healthy Foods organic grocery store in Regina Saskatchewan have adopted a simple yet brilliant practice: they invite their customers to bring in old plastic bags for reuse. Let me count the ways in which this is so damn excellent:

1. It provides an opportunity to reuse (many times over) some of the countless plastic bags that would otherwise get landfilled.

2. It saves the proprietor of Eat Healthy Foods the cost of buying new bags.

3. It alleviates the guilt the customer feels when we forget to bring our own bags, and empowers us to be able to reuse our old bags by bringing them into the store.

Thank you Eat Healthy Foods. To find out more about this sweet little independent business, check out this article in The Commonwealth.

And don’t forget that innovative small business owners aren’t the only ones that can take positive action. Check out the actions you can take:

1. Suggest to stores you frequent that they follow Eat Healthy Foods’ example by accepting donations of plastic bags for reuse.

2. Keep a bag of bags in the trunk of your car or in your bag for reuse at all times, so you won’t kick yourself for forgetting them!

3: Invest in a few large cloth bags to shop with, and keep them where you’ll see them and use them.

4. Don’t be discouraged by forgetting once in awhile. Remember that each time you don’t bring home new plastic bags is a victory, and that bringing them home occasionally doesn’t erase your efforts.

Here is some interesting further info on the subject:
Plastic Bag Podcast
The Guardian article on plastic bags
Info and resources from Worldwatch

Until next time, buy nothing.

xox n