Paper, plastic, or fabric?

I was interested in what Kari said about plastic bags and found this article: http://www.newsweek.com/id/123038/page/1

This article says how various cities are considering bans on plastics, and that the plastics industry is fighting it, city by city. San Francisco has banned them, and other cities are trying. The plastic bags take roughly 1,000 years to decompose, and take a lot of oil to make. They choke birds and small animals. They can even kill a rhinoceros, by wrapping around its foot, cutting circulation, foot dies, rhino can’t move, and it starves. Paper bags kill trees. I feel that the only green choice is reusable fabric bags. Are we going to let the plastics lobby destroy our earth so they can have a bit more money? Our family uses fabric bags. What do YOU use and why?

16 Responses to “Paper, plastic, or fabric?”

  1. Otir Says:

    Fabric bags are the best, for sure. Some stores would refuse you to use them, for sanitary reasons I have noticed though (or they want you to buy their fabric bags, we I would to encourage them to make them and soon enough offer them to their regular customers, why not).

    Awaiting for this general policy, I have been using brown bags in the store where I go, but I reuse them over and over. And by the way, they discount 5 cents per bag I bring. Some of the bags, I have been able to use them for more than two years before they break.

    In Europe, when I was younger, we would always bring our own shopping cart. Nobody was giving any plastic bag to anyone in stores. But maybe this has changed.

    Also we should lobby against the outrageous plastic packaging for everything. Another story. But good start. And keep up the good job, that’s great!

  2. Steve Purkiss Says:

    Here in the UK many people seem to be trying to limit their use of plastic bags, including one plastic bag free town which hit the news recently.

    I was amazed by the gross over-use of bags when I visited Atlanta last year – there were two ‘baggers’ (we have none unless you ask) and they seemed to put only a couple of items in each bag.

    I think the problem is deeper though – the petrochemical industry seems to have ruled the world for many years when there are many items which can be made from hemp – bags included.

  3. Mom Says:

    When we hand the bagger our fabric bags, they ALWAYS pause and look at them blankly for a minute. They seem to have no idea what to do with anything that isn’t their usual plastic bags. The last time we got home from the grocery, I found that they had bagged the groceries in plastic and put the plastic bags INSIDE our fabric bags. Why is this so confusing to them? Wouldn’t the stores like to not have to buy a gazillion plastic bags every year?

  4. Kari the Herbalist Says:

    It’s great to see that we are taking the health and well being of this earth seriously and provoking people to BE CONSCIOUS! I find myself becoming more and more vocal about things like this. Thank you Tommy!

  5. tikitorch Says:

    I am also appalled by how many plastic bags grocery store employees use and are clearly trained to use. I am trying my best to get in the habit of taking my cloth bags to the store on a regular basis. I’ve been surprised at how much stuff you can really get in a good-sized cloth bag! Of course, then it’s too heavy to carry…. I’d also like to retrain grocery store baggers about how many plastic bags they use. Maybe a letter to managers would be a good place to start.

  6. Tamara Says:

    Good news, Tommy–I saw a Wal-mart circular a week or so back that advertised fabric shopping bags for sale with their store logo. The price was right, too, at just 99 cents. I meant to buy three or four this week, but forgot until I saw your post.

    (I don’t really like Wal-mart much but, hey, they’re fabric bags and they’re cheap, right? Next trip, then.)

    Thanks for the reminder!

  7. talidapali Says:

    I’ve bought several of the reusable bags that they have in various stores like Ingle’s, or Kroger’s, or Food City. They work really well. Every time I go in I buy another one, cause I usually miscalculate how many groceries I’m going home with and come up short on my bag count. We used to get plastic bags cause we would reuse them as trash bags in small trash cans, but honestly, they would still junk up the landfills…just they would be filled with other trash too.

  8. Steve D. Says:

    We try to use fabric bags as much as possible, but when we get plastic bags (a quick unplanned stop at the store), we make sure to re-use them as much as possible.

    Going to Wal-Mart to buy fabric shopping bags is kinda like… I don’t really know… just seems self-defeating.

  9. R. Neal Says:

    I confess that we still use plastic grocery bags. We purchased some reusable cloth bags, but we rarely seem to have them with us when we go shopping. I guess we need to try a little harder.

    You are correct that manufacturing plastic bags uses oil, which is becoming more and more scarce. Recycling helps reduce our use of dwindling natural resources, and most supermarkets accept plastic grocery bags for recycling, so that helps.

    But plastic recycling is not the only solution. On a larger scale, manufacturers should rethink how how our consumer products are packaged. Look up how much plastic is used for bottled drinking water. You’ll be amazed. And think about how much of this stuff goes in our landfills. Would reusable glass bottles like we had back in the “old” days be a better solution?

    Here is an interesting discussion about the pros and cons of plastic packaging and recycling:

    http://www.ecologycenter.org/ptf/misconceptions.html

    And here’s a tip that might help wildlife. You know those plastic loop things that hold together six packs of soft drinks? Before you throw them away, cut the loops with scissors so birds and small animals can’t get caught in them in case they somehow get loose before going into the landfill. I don’t know if it helps, but that’s one habit we have adopted over the years.

  10. Carole Borges Says:

    Your list of problems associated with plastic bags really reminded me to start looking for alternatives. Fabric bags are cool, but I’m a retired senior with weak arms and a tight budget. It takes me at least 6 or 7 tightly packed large bags to do my grocery shopping. I try to only shop once a month to save gas and to avoid being enticed by things in stores I don’t really need. I am going to try fabric bags, but I’m not really sure they will work for me.

    I think it is totally disgusting to see grocery clerks put one item in a bag and then pull out another. I always ask them to load my bags a little more. This planet is drowning in discarded paper and plastic products. I recycle mine (along with many other people) at the local dog park. We put our bags into a box so everyone can use them as pooper-scoopers. It’s not a perfect solution, but at least the bags are used twice. I’m a believer in trying to do little things if you can’t do the larger things. If each of us would cut down just a little on our waste, an amazing amount ofenvironmental improvement would be seen.

    I used to like the brown paper bags because I used them for so many things like making crafts, bookcovers, wrapping books and packages for mailing, and even for food preparation. They were great for the kids to make Halloween masks, and I used them with an iron to get spilled candle wax up from my rugs. I love trees though, so it was clear paper bags had to go.

    You bring up a good topic here. I liked reading all the comments. Thanks for creating a discussion about this important issue.

  11. mickey Says:

    I use a big plastic box, the same one we use to hold our recycled newspapers. I wheel my groceries out to the car, no bags involved, and put them in the box. Once home, I carry the box to the kitchen.

    What the heck are the bags for in the first place? Completely unnecessary.

  12. Jeni and Dean Says:

    We use fabric bags. We have 4 fabric bags that we use for groceries and for going to Target. It’s amazing because we used to get about 10-12 plastic bags when we would go grocery shopping and now all our groceries fit in those 4 bags. Pretty cool.

  13. tommy Says:

    Otir -
    I suppose we could always just flat refuse to use their bags, and tell them either we use our own bags or go elsewhere, because we bought bags already, and if they only let us use theirs, then goodbye to them.

    Steve Purkiss -
    It is bad, they under load them, and mass them as well.

    Mom -
    Wow…did they REALLY do that? Sad…..

    Kari the herbalist -
    Heh, your welcome.

    Tikitorch -
    Letter to the manager..If you do so, be sure to mention what “Mom” said, about plastic INSIDE the fabrics..

    Steve D. -
    Let’s hope that when you buy the fabrics, they don’t bag them :)

    R. Neal -
    Thanks, I’ll be sure to check that out.

    Carole Burges -
    Try having a wheeled cart that can go in your car, and lightweight? All I can say..Personally, I love to reuse things, but i usually end up pack ratting more then using..

    Mickey -
    That never occurred to me until I read your post.. Thanks for the idea.

    Jeni and Dean -
    Hi! How ya doing? Anyway….Yes, the fabrics are SOOO much larger..

  14. Dixie Says:

    Hi Tommy. I just wanted to say that in France, people take their own cloth or plastic bags to the store with them to be used for purchases and have done so for many years. If you forget your bags from home then you must pay for bags from the store!
    I personally like the idea of “going green” and taking my own bags to the grocery store!

  15. Shirley Says:

    I have made 5 fabric bags the same size as paper bags. They hold a lot and I get compliments on them all the time from the baggers at stores because they are easy to load. They are easy to load because I made them out of a very stiff fabric. The fabric has been discontinued by JoAnn Fabrics and now I am on the hunt to locate more to make bags for my four adult kids. If anyone has any suggestions on where I might find fabric, let me know.

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