Mon 5 Nov, 2012 01:26 am
According to the Wall Street Journal, over 100 billion plastic bags are used each year, costing retailers approximately four billion dollars annually.
The Benefits of Reusable Grocery Bags
Because disposable grocery bags are generally used for half an hour and then discarded, reusable bags make for a more sustainable option. Not only can they be used for years with proper care, but they are also larger. This results in less plastic bag manufacturing, in turn leading to less oil being used in their production. Additionally, it means that fewer toxic particles are deposited into the earth's crust as waste when discarded plastic bags decompose -- a process which may take as long as 10,000 years.
The Downside of Reusable Bags
Though the benefits of using reusable grocery bags are clear, the fact is that many people do not use their bags enough to balance out the negatives. According to The Independent, government researchers in the U.K. found that most reusable bags were only used 51 times on average before being discarded; in order for a reusable bag to cancel out the carbon emissions released in its creation (harvesting, weaving and sewing the cotton plant), the study concluded that the bag must be reused 171 times to equal the emissions created by their plastic counterparts.
"Bag for Life"
Some companies, such as Whole Foods and many co-operatives, offer incentives for customers who are on the fence about purchasing a reusable bag. The "bag for life" incentive allows customers to purchase one reusable bag and exchange it for a new bag every time the older model becomes torn or bedraggled. In this way, an impartial judge will be able to tell whether or not your bag can still be used, allowing you to get the most wear out of it.
Using Your Bag with Care
Though using a reusable bag is a great way to cut down on the use of crude oil, a downside is that many people do not clean their bags. Unwashed reusable bags can harbor bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella, which are found on the surface of unwashed food. To help combat the threat of transferring pathogens, wash your bags weekly and use a different type of bag for different goods; for instance, keep one bag specifically for dry goods, one just for food and another for take-out dinners.
Thanks and Regards