Ever since I watched the “Off the Grid” episode of Thirty Days a few weeks ago, and listened to and discussed a talk on global warming with Jason about a week before that, I’ve noticed that I’ve been especially sensitive to how much my consumption negatively impacts our environment. While I was living in Berkeley, I could rest assured that my ecological footprint was much lower than most people’s, but now that I’m in LA, I’m constantly feeling like a sellout (or, to put it more bluntly, a traitor) for driving all the time and not recycling as frequently. I feel guilty, but I’m also concerned: Jason and I agreed during our conversation that one of the most disturbing things about damage to the environment is that it’s so bad, yet so easy to ignore. Since it’s not directly and instantly affecting us in a visible way, we forget about it; but once we stop to think, it’s terrifying how much harm we’re doing and how not-hard we’re trying to fix it.
So it was with great surprise and pleasure today that I discovered ReusableBags.com, a site that deals exclusively in reusable shopping bags, produce bags, lunch containers, and similar useful things that can help us to cut down on the number of plastic and paper bags we use.
It is extremely frightening to think that those flimsy plastic bags we get at the supermarket will end up sitting in a landfill for centuries after we’re all dead and gone. It’s especially depressing when you think that you don’t even really need some of those bags; basically, you use them for a few minutes to get things home in, and then they’ve served their purpose. When I think of the twelve or so plastic bags that I generate every time I go to the store (let’s say six grocery bags, and six produce bags), and how I’m only one person, and there are so many billions of people out there generating the same number of bags as me every day, it’s a wonder we’re not already drowning in the things.
I used to think bringing my own bags to the grocery store was annoying and dorky, but now that I have a car (and live in trendy West Hollywood, where I’m likely to feel dorky no matter what I’m doing ;b), it doesn’t seem so bad. But what really kept me from buying the kinds of bags ReusableBags.com sells was that they are so darn expensive. A sexy style I like costs about $10 a pop, and I’d have to get at least two to even be able to use them for a normal shopping trip. Since grocery store shopping bags are free, it doesn’t save me any money to bring my own bags, so why should I? But as I was looking through ReusableBags.com, I saw so many products that just seemed to fit my lifestyle: sandwich wraps so I don’t have to use Ziplock bags, produce bags for the farmers’ market, and a cool-looking “paper” bag that I can bring to the supermarket or use to cart cookies and cakes to gatherings. 🙂 So I ordered them.
I figure buying reusable bags doesn’t save me money, but I can consider their cost a charitable donation to help the environment, which is something I like to do anyway. Every time I use them, I’ll think of it as donating a few cents to a good cause. Also, I’ve noticed that it makes me happy to be able to tell the people at the store, “Thank you, I don’t need a bag.” The store people are usually happy about it, too, since it saves them some effort. Some stores even offer other perks for bringing your own bag: at Amoeba they give you a $1-off coupon, and at Buffalo Exchange, they’ll make a five-cent donation to charity every time you decline a bag. I recently bought an awesome urban tote that I’ve been wearing everywhere, and already I use it instead of a grocery bag when I’m only buying a few things. There’s already so much packaging on so much of the stuff we buy, it’s a comfort to me to know that in some small way at least, I’m helping to cut down that total.
After my ReusableBags.com order arrives, I’ll be sure to update and let you know what I think of the goods!
[This post was imported on 4/10/14 from my old blog at satsumabug.livejournal.com.]