With the recent debate regarding plastic versus reusable grocery bags and reusable produce bags, a lot of us have questions and concerns. It’s no secret that plastic is bad for the environment, but does that justify the cost and hassle of investing in reusable bags? Decide for yourself.
According to Waste Management (WM), roughly 14 billion plastic grocery bags are used in the United States each year with only one measly percent of these bags ever being returned to the grocery stores for recycling. Where does the rest go? Most of them end up in landfills, but others will end up killing an estimated 100,000 marine animals annually, according to WM.
Need more convincing? Check out these three reasons why reusable bags are better than plastic:
They Will Save You Money
According to the National Conference of State Legislature (NCSL), grocery stores and some retail stores in certain states are now charging as much at five to ten cents per bag for paper or plastic bags. Over time, this can quickly add up. By using cotton bags and reusable produce bags when you shop, you can save quite a bit of money over time while simultaneously being environmentally friendly.
With a set of reusable produce bags, you can bring home fresh produce in sturdier bags that won’t rip causing all of your just purchased fruits and vegetables to fall all over the floor to be bruised, dirtied, and potentially ruined. This means you will save money on not having to re-purchase damaged produce and you will save money on other products not being damaged as well using reusable cotton bags.
For reusable produce bags, these mesh bags really could be the best option as they come in different sizes to fit all of your produce needs (from the large size for hardy heads of romaine lettuce to the medium size for delicate fresh fruits to the small size for little amounts of fresh garlic for seasoning). Plus, these eco-friendly cotton bags will make you feel good about your contribution to the earth every time you shop. Unlike Amazon reviews of similar products, these mesh bags have a plethora of 5-star ratings!
The Act of Reusing Benefits the Environment
According to an article published in the Huff Post last year, reusable bags received some skepticism after a Denmark study found that manufacturing of plastic grocery bags is actually less detrimental to the environment compared to the manufacturing of cotton bags or paper bags. However, the Huff Post author notes that since this study only focused on how the manufacturing of these products effects’ things like climate change, pollution, ozone depletion, water use, and the release of toxins; it fails to address what happens to plastic AFTER it’s in the consumer’s hands.
According to Eric Goldstein (senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council), who was interviewed for the aforementioned Huff Post piece, plastic bags are a huge source of marine litter and end up littering our streets as well by ending up in trees, clogging storm drains, and ultimately, killing birds and marine life (100,000 marine animals alone, in fact). Even Anne Aittomaki (director of systematic change for the organization Plastic Change) notes how “unfortunate” it is that the Denmark study has become a reference point to the plastic discussion as it has “flawed analyses within it”, according to the Huff Post piece.
The bottom line? Using reusable bags helps protect marine life, keeps our oceans cleaner, and, in the long run, helps conserve human life as well. According to the Marine Conservation Institute, our very survival could depend on healthy oceans. Since half of the oxygen we breathe is generated by the ocean, 97 percent of the worlds water supply comes from the oceans, roughly one-sixth of the animal protein we consume comes from the ocean, and “living oceans” help reduce the effects of climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Talk about eco-friendly!
They Will Make Life Easier for You
While making the switch to reusable bags can be difficult at first (anything that goes outside of a normal routine can be), once you get used to the process of reusable bags, you will start to see how they make life easier.
For example, people who advocate for the use of cotton bags often note how great it is to no longer have the mess of plastic bags scattered around their homes and cars. These bags tend to be way more durable as well, so they make the trips easier and more efficient. Plus, the sense of purpose you will receive from knowing you’re contributing to clean oceans and saving precious wildlife can make life that much sweeter.