Are you actually using reusable shopping bags?

[via greendaily]

Lots of people are buying reusable shopping bags these days. Whether the bags are hip and trendy or just the 99 cent version from the local grocery store, reusable bags are everywhere.

If I open a new checking account at a local bank, I get a reusable bag. If I spend over a certain amount of money at my local quilt store, I get a reusable bag. One summer after reading a certain number of books at the library I got a reusable bag.

Here's the thing though. It costs more in energy and resources to produce those reusable bags. And the majority of them break down at a much slower rate if thrown away. So you have to actually use them to make a difference.

According to a Wall Street Journal article anywhere from about 10% to 50% of us are actually reusing those bags. The rest used up extra resources to be produced and sit gathering dust in closets and trunks while people still bring home plastic bags.

This seems like a pretty simplistic tip, but, if you have reusable bags, make sure you are using them. I keep one folded up as small as it will go in my purse for purchases at the bookstore, hardware store, etc. I keep a few bags in each of my family's cars so that we always have a few when we stop at the grocery store. I take a bag to the library to carry my books home.

The key, is remembering to let your cashier know you have a bag. Their habits of immediately packing things into a plastic bag are very ingrained. Quite the opposite of our habits of bringing bags along. So, make an effort to bring those bags and remember to let your cashier know you have your own bag.

Otherwise, they may take things out of the plastic bag, place them in your reusable bag and throw away the plastic bag as I saw happen at a local big box store not too long ago. We can do it. We just have to retrain our way of thinking.

If you have made your own bags at home, purchased handmade bags, made in the USA or other varieties like this, the impact of production may be less, but, you still need to remember to use them as well.

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