Questions for Michelle
Comments or questions are welcome.
Questions and Answers About Plastic Bags
1. I use plastic bags to discard raw meat and also for household garbage bags. What do you suggest I use as an alternative?
I suggest that you begin collecting plastic bags from other sources that you believe are necessities. For example, you could save cereal box bags, toilet paper bags etc. You will be surprised by the amount of bags you can collect. If you want to take waste reduction a step further, you can begin reducing the amount of plastic bags that you collect from these other sources by avoiding products that are packaged in plastic, but that’s going off topic. I also suggest saving plastic bags that you already have in your garbage can by dumping waste into a single large bag. Avoid stinky garbage cans by composting, wrapping meat in alternative plastic bags mentioned above, rinsing non-recyclable containers, and reduce, reuse, recycle as much as possible. Or maybe you can avoid using plastic bags in garbage cans in the first place? Does clean plastic cellophane need to be thrown into a plastic bag to be thrown into a larger plastic bag to be dumped at a landfill surrounded by more plastic?
2. When I go to the store I usually forget my reusable bags at home, how can I remember to bring them with me? Sometimes I forget them in my vehicle too.
I find it very helpful to hang my reusable bags on the door knob in my house after using them. If you use this technique, when you are leaving your house you cannot leave without forgetting to grab them. Next, put them somewhere visible in your vehicle. It might take a few tries for using them to become second nature but don’t worry, it will happen. For the time being, just think of it as you NEED TWO things at the checkout counter… money and a reusable bag! So when you are in the parking lot and you make sure that you have money with you, remember the second necessary item!
3. Will I make a difference if I refuse to use a plastic bag at a retail store? The plastic bag has already been manufactured and transported to the store, it is already here (whether or not I use it or someone else uses it, it will still take up to one thousand years to photodegrade and contaminate the environment).
Yes, it will make a difference! By refusing a plastic bag you are telling the retail store that you are an environmentally conscious consumer and that you support waste reduction. When more people refuse plastic bags our actions really add up. The retail store will purchase/stock less plastic bags, and together we can make a difference where it really matters; less plastic bags will be manufactured, transported and disposed of. The rule of supply and demand. It is also important to keep in mind that our actions are votes, we can vote for environmental sustainability.
4. According to your personal opinion, what do you think is the purpose of charging for plastic + paper bags and do you believe that is it effective in reducing the use of single use shopping bags?
Charging for plastic and paper bags is an incentive. Even though the extra cost is usually only 5 to 10 cents, this extra expense can really add up and people realize this. Another way of thinking; if you bought something because it was on sale (usually only about a 50 cent discount) you will practically be breaking even if you use 5 to 10 bags. Charging for bags will motivate most people to make a greater effort to remember to reuse their reusable bags. The following article is proof that charging for bags has made a drastic difference in the rate of distribution of plastic shopping bags: (from 22.5 million bags/month down to 3.3 million bags/month) Washington D.C. Bag Tax.