Doing our Part: Shopping bags

Lauren and I recently decided to pick up three recycled canvas EcoBags to go shopping with instead of using plastic bags. After talking about our impact on the environment by just shopping every week and consuming plastic bags, we decided that using canvas bags would help to minimize our impact on this earth.

Prior to making the decision to buy the bags, we came up with a rough calculation to figure out how many plastic bags we were using based on out average shopping trip make every week. Say we shop forty eight weeks a year, (accounting for weeks missed due to vacations, travel, or us just not needing to go shopping) and the average number of bags we need per shopping trip is around eight bags, we use 384 individual plastic bags (not counting the ones that loaves of bread and other products are packaged in) per year and that’s just from food shopping, let alone any other source of plastic bags! The biggest problem for us is that the City of Tucson doesn’t recycle plastic bags, so all of ours will end up in the dump after we are done using them!

After reading (among the articles of interest this one on and this one on were some of the most interesting) and hearing about how bad plastic bags are for the environment (they don’t biodegradable and stay around for thousands of years!), we decided to do our part and help lower the consumption of plastics. The three bags that we bought hold the same amount of groceries as our previous 8 plastic bags, so there is an immediate savigs of all of the bags we were previously consuming from the food store.

Not only are we cutting back on plastics by using the canvas shopping bags, but we are saving money using them as well. Fry’s, our local food store of choice, gives you $0.05 per each bag that you bring in to carry your groceries. After shipping and handling, each bag came to roughly $11 each; so, we will see the full return on our investment after 4 1/2 years of use if we only count food shopping use. With proper care and mending, I would expect the canvas bags to last double that amount of time.

Changing our shopping habits while food shopping isn’t the only way to cut back on plastic bags. When we purchase small numbers of items or items that can be easily carried, we’ve started refusing plastic bags as well. When we can’t avoid taking plastic bags (in the instance of buying loaves of bread or the like), we are trying to reuse those bags where we can.

Though we haven’t seen this program here in Tucson yet (rumor has it Safeway offers this, but it has yet to be proven), there are many stores across the country (many Whole Food Stores, for example, offer this) and world that have “plastic bag amnesty” bins where you can bring in used plastic bags to be recycled. I’m sure it’s just a matter of time until we see some, otherwise, we’ll have to start asking our local supermarkets to start offering that service.



One Response to “Doing our Part: Shopping bags”

  1. Gravatar of ErinLance ErinLance
    9. September 2007 at 20:12

    Hi Geoff, Sounds like you and Lauren are making great strides in the green department. Good for you! As for the plastic bags, Wal-Mart has recycle bins in their front lobby – you don’t have to enter the main store if you don’t want to. Also, Tucson Clean and Beautiful has an on-line directory that lists recycling resources for all kinds of items; from used motor oil to computer equipment. If you have any specific questions, feel free to ask – I worked as an outreach educator for the City’s water and enviro services depts. I love to see people get excited about and involved in this stuff!