Because this lifestyle is about reduction of waste and moving toward zero trash, I wanted to start this blog post off with a number. That way, I can have a reference point to compare my reduction to.
Are you sitting down? Good, because this number definitely shocked me.
The average American family takes home almost 1,500 plastic shopping bags a year.
One thousand, five hundred plastic shopping bags a year. Grocery store shopping bags. Department store shopping bags. Pharmacy shopping bags. In the garbage, floating through the air, inspiring Katy Perry, landing on street corners, getting caught on animals, lifelessly swimming in our oceans, eventually being buried into the ground. . . that’s a lot of plastic.
BUT – there is a really simple fix to this. . .
CANVAS BAGS ! (seriously, click on that link, haha). Basically, any reusable bag.
I’ve (admittedly) become kind of a crazy bag person. I ALWAYS have at least one bag on me. I have 2 in my work backpack. I have at least 5 in my closet at home for easy access when I run errands. When I had a car, I used to keep at least 3 in the trunk just in case I ended up at the mall or supermarket.
After I go shopping with my reusable bags, I bring my bags inside, empty them out, and hang them on my door handle. That way, the next time I leave the house, I remember to bring them with me / re-stow them in my car / backpack.
Where do I get all these canvas bags? Well, a lot of stores actually give them to you for free ! I know that Urban Outfitters has completely gotten rid of plastic bags, and I’m sure many other stores have as well. I’ve also gotten canvas bags from random things like touring potential apartments, attending music festivals, prizes at my workplace, local coffee shops, Target, supermarkets, and many other places.
If you find yourself shopping without a reusable bag and want to avoid a plastic bag, there are lots of alternatives:
- forego a bag altogether (pockets or a purse maybe)
- ask for a paper bag (they also make GREAT wrapping paper)
- get one bag at the first store and keep piling your buys in that one
And listen, I’m not trying to push this lifestyle on anyone. All I am hoping to do is make people more aware of where their trash is coming from. If you can reduce even ONE plastic bag, then you’re living a “reductionist” lifestyle !
If you use canvas bags, I would love to hear where you got your bags from, how often you use them, and what you do when you are caught without one !
Finally, if somehow you still haven’t clicked on the link above, I will close by sharing some words of wisdom from Tim Minchin:
Just think about the world
And how the world would be fantastic
If we got rid of all the plastic
We just need to get enthusiastic
Start a competition gymnastic
Or a bag making comp at your school
Fuck it, make it interscholastic
Canvas is for everyone
Whether you be rebellious and iconoclastic
Or conservative or ecclesiastic
I don’t care if you’re loud and bombastic
Or quiet or virtually monastic
Sober or on the floor spastic
Yoga master or completely inelastic
I’m not trying to be ironic or sarcastic
Just do something drastic
To rid the world of plastic