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The Bag Lady's Dilemma

I’m a bag lady with a bad attitude. I carry my own reusable bags when I buy groceries, visit the hardware store, or go anywhere I suspect they will hand me one of those foldable, flimsy plastic bags. Part of the reason I do this is because I got burned out on plastic bags during COVID. No one would even touch a bag brought from home, so I ended up with bags full of bags. It got to a point where I even tried my hand at crocheting bags to make mats for the homeless. This was not successful and the bags returned to the closet.

Feeling crafty? Check out this link to make your own reusable bags.

When I go shopping and I see other shoppers walking out of the store with their one-use plastic bags, it hits a nerve. Yes, I’m being judgmental, but I ask myself how hard is it to provide your own reusable bags? I keep four or five in each car and at home, so I am a prepared bag lady.

I have no issues with paper sacks. Also reusable, I imagine paper sacks degrade much faster than plastic. The fact is most paper sacks will break down in 1-5 months. Once again, why can’t Americans, or anyone, take these simple steps to help the planet? Why are stores handing out plastic instead of paper?

My dilemma is the painful process of trying to keep my mouth shut when I see a shopping cart full of plastic making its way to the parking lot. I could say it’s none of my business and close my eyes and big mouth to the waste. But it is my business because it’s my planet, wildlife, air, water, plants, and even dirt, which as a food producer, I prefer without plastic and toxins. And, like the generation before me, I feel guilty for what I am leaving behind for my children and grandchildren.

So, this is my chance to speak out and share some random plastic bag facts in the hope that I can convert someone from the dark side to the greener side of life. Please feel free to share these facts with everyone. They are simple truths, often overlooked for convenience. It’s time for us to remove plastic bags from the planet.

  1. Americans use 365 bags per person, per year. Denmark uses 4.

  2. It takes one thousand years (an estimation) for a plastic bag to degrade in a landfill and even at that, they don’t break down completely.

  3. Humans produce three hundred million tons of plastic each year.

  4. Of those plastics that are produced, Only 9% of the total plastic waste quantities are recycled.

  5. The country of Rwanda has been plastic free since 2008, implementing the first nationwide ban on plastic. Well played, Rwanda!

I could go on and on with these disturbing facts, but these are enough to make my point. My challenge to you is the very next time you go shopping, start your collection of reusable shopping bags. Support companies, countries, and volunteer organizations that work toward making plastic bags part of our past. As for the plastic bags hiding in dark spaces in your home, I understand they are a valuable resource to food banks, and isn’t that a nice way to keep a plastic bag out of landfills and waterways?

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