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What are the benefits of Reusable Shopping Bags?
Reusable shopping bags aren’t just a trendy way to carry your groceries as you walk home from the organic farmer’s market sipping your kombucha through a paper straw. There are actually many reasons why using reusable bags is the right way to carry your groceries (and everything else), not the least of which are new laws that mandate it in many areas.
So, why should we use reusable bags, and do the benefits of using reusable shopping bags really add up?
The most obvious and urgent answer to the question, “Why use reusable bags?” is to reduce the impact of plastic bags on the environment. It’s not news that single-use plastics like water bottles and shopping bags are crowding landfills and endangering wildlife.
Still, the plain truth is that our use of plastic bags is more than excessive (especially in Australia), and is taking a serious toll on the planet. So, rather than preach to you, we’re going to hit you with some hard facts about single-use plastic bags.
The Centers for Biological Diversity reports that harm to at least 267 different species has been attributed to plastic pollution in the oceans.
Plastic bags alone kill up to 100,000 marine animals every year. One species that is especially hard-hit is the leatherback sea turtle, which often confuses plastic bags for the jellyfish they like to eat. 1 of every 3 leatherbacks is found with plastic in its stomach, according to the Centers for Biological Diversity.
Residents of the United States use nearly one single-use plastic bag per person per day. Let’s put that into perspective, thanks to the National Geographic Society: Danish shoppers use only about four plastic bags per year.
The Earth Day Network states that only about 1% of the 4 trillion plastic bags used worldwide annually are recycled.
A plastic bag takes up to 500 years to degrade in a landfill. According to the Earth Day Network, as plastic bags break down, they absorb toxins which can then be released into the wind, water, or ground.
Now that you’re aware of the dramatic impact single-use plastic bags have on our environment, we hope you have a better understanding of why we should use reusable bags. It seems like an easy decision to make and an easy practice to adopt, so what’s stopping us?
With so many benefits of using reusable shopping bags, it seems like this is a no-brainer. And (theoretically, at least) it is.
Ironically, the biggest deterrent many people cite that keeps them from fully embracing reusable bags is our brains—we simply forget! We’ve all been there: you tote your groceries home and put them away, then leave your reusable bags in the kitchen. Or if you actually manage to get the reusable bags back into your vehicle, you leave them in the boot when you go to the store.
Here are our best ideas for tricking yourself into making reusable bags part of your routine:
Make yourself go back for your reusable bags, rather than buying single-use bags at the store when you forget them.
Once your groceries are unpacked, put your reusable bags right by the door so you see them the next time you head out. Or even better—make an extra trip to put them in your car.
Yes, these extra steps may feel like a hassle at first, but if you take them enough times you’ll never forget your bags again. Plus, it’s a small price to pay for helping to save the lives of millions of animals…and our planet.