Sunday, January 2, 2011


That's right...another one of my resolutions. And, I hope after you read this, you will make it one of yours.

Bring Your Own Bag.

Plastic bags are handy - but they cost way more than the convenience is worth. You're probably thinking "so, I get a few plastic bags a week, no big deal". But isn't it amazing to open the pantry door and have them attack you? They add up quickly. More quickly than you might believe...

  • The average family of 4 uses 1,460 plastic bags a year.
  • Plastic bags are made using petroleum (polyethylene).
  • Every year Americans use 380 Billion plastic bags. Do you know how much oil that translates to? 12 million barrels! For plastic bags. EVERY year!!! (Just think if some of that could be diverted to one of the many other uses of oil. Maybe gas would be cheaper. Maybe we wouldn't have to kiss the butts of countries that don't like us so much. Maybe...)
  • Do you know how long it takes a plastic bag to completely break down? 1000 years. Of course, the toxic chemicals from the break down start leaching into the ecosystem as soon as the bag is disposed of. Toxins from last decades bags have already started to make it into today's food chain. Think about that.

I remember the first plastic bag I ever got. I spent the summer of 1982 in Spain. A few days into my trip, I visited a popular Spanish department store and was given one filled with my purchases. I was amazed at how convenient and what a good idea they were. I couldn't imagine that we didn't have such a thing in the US. I mean, my goodness, I thought Chicago had everything.

When I returned home, I handed out gifts to people in the bags. Mom even took one into the grocery store she worked at. Everyone agreed that it would be so much easier to pack groceries into them than the paper bags that all the stores here used.

Apparently America fell in love with the concept of the bags because not too long after the summer of 1982, they started making their way into our society as well. Who knew then that they'd grow into menace they've become?

So...can you add another resolution to your list? We'll all get plastic bags somewhere along the line this year despite our best intentions. But I am going to do my best to avoid them by carrying my own bags every time I go out. And, you can bet that I'll recycle every plastic bag I do get this year. Hope you'll consider doing the same.

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