Saturday, 14 May 2011

The no plastic bag challenge

At the beginning of May, I set myself the task of allowing no additional plastic bags into this household. For someone who identifies as being pretty green (light green if you will, thanks Sunny), I am encumbered with an enormous stash of plastic bags in my cupboard.

I *think* that I use reusable bags at the supermarket.

I *think* that I say ‘no’ to plastic when I pick up a few little things at the local stores.

And yet. Here I am sporting a gigantic pile of plastic bags. Bags that are taking up space that should be available for other things.

I do have a huge collection of re-usable bags too. I have sure bought my fair share of those over the years! (Mostly when I forgot to bring some but didn’t want plastic bags). But with the whole Buy nothing new for a year thing that I am doing, I don’t have a choice about buying new re-usable bags, so I reckon I am getting lumbered with more plastic.

More plastic because I am disorganised.

They say it takes 30 days to change a habit, so I am endeavouring to teach myself to remember the ‘green’ bags.

I have to say that it has been very eye-opening.

I haven’t had any difficulty at the supermarket. On the one occasion I spontaneously shopped after my soccer match sans bags, I just loaded the groceries directly into my car, grabbed and packed the bags at home and then lugged them up the stairs. Annoying, yes, but doable.

It has been the incidental plastic bags that have snuck in: Two were delivered with my fruit and vegetable box (to keep lettuce and celery fresh); my half-dozen bacon and cheese rolls for playgroup were housed in another.

So even when I have been consciously avoiding plastic bags for 13 days, I have a tally of three new ones in the house.

On the plus side, my stash is diminishing (albeit slowly) – another notch in my decluttering belt. I am also realising that there are many things I could do better to move from ‘light green’ to green. I am currently gathering ideas on what to use for bin liners, ‘wet bags’ and ‘nappy’ bags instead of re-used plastic bags, because I am not going to have any of those available soon!

My next task will be overcoming my love of the zip-lock bag. But one thing at a time.

So tell me, how have you managed to reduce/eliminate your use of plastic bags? Any suggestions for bin-liners? Nappy disposal? or Holding wet clothes when out and about?


Tricia said...

Only three bags is great! Yep, just comes down to being organised and it becoming a habit. It took us ages to finally run out of plastic bags to use as bin liners, but when we did I started lining my bin with newspaper ( It's not a hassle at all. We simply carry the whole bin out to the outdoor garbage bin and tip it in. I don't know why we thought we needed a bag liner?

Re the wet bags, there's loads of lovely reusable wet bags online. Try any of the online shops that sell cloth nappies. You could also use a wet bag instead of nappy bags when out and about (and tip into the outside bin when you get home) and at home each nappy doesn’t need an individual bag, and instead could go in a lidded bin (that the kids aren't able to open) until you are ready to tip them in the outside bin.

Good luck :-)

Anonymous said...

My name is Sarah and I am very bad about plastic bags. I have no tips at all but you have given me plenty of good ideas. I'm going to bring my re-useable bags that sit in the car actually into the shop instead of forgetting them until I am at the checkout. See what I mean? BAD. very bad. But I'm going to do better.

Leigh @ Toasted said...

Nice post. 1000 Homes of Happiness has sent me your way.

I was gonna say all the stuff Tricia said as well as; I have a box of reusable bags by my front door, and some 'fold-up in to a pouch' kind of bags in my every day bag which minimises the 'forgetting factor.' I have also used paper bags for used nappies, or none, depending on the situation (this ones a personal decision though!)

cityhippyfarmgirl said...

I still battle with the check out ladies at the super market. You have to be so quick to say "no bags please!" while grappling with the little people and putting groceries up at the same time. I usually load the pram up so don't use that many bags full stop.
For wet clothes I usually just have a designated re-usable bag for out and about, or the clothing drapes like a flag over the pram in a woohoo kinda fashion.

Diminishing Lucy said...

I am sure I have mentioned before that SA is a plastic bag free state?

I have a couple of fold up bags stashed in my hand bag for "drop in" shopping.

Online shopping means no bags at all.

For wet clothes etc - I just re-use zip lock bags.

And nappies (we are beyond that now, but still have friends who come and visit with nappies) just go directly into the outside bin.


Anonymous said...

Good woman! You're doing well. I leave our green bags in the boot. I have a wagon, so whenever I go to the shops I can see the green bags out the corner of my eye, and 95% of the time I remember them. Then when we come home, I leave them at the backdoor to make sure they get put back in the car.
Otherwise, I have a spare one folded up in my handbag for quick stops.
Newspaper in the bin is a great idea. That's what people used 'in the olden days'. In fact, i think my mum still wraps her food scraps in newspaper before putting in the bin.
My only suggestion for zip locks would be reusable plastic containers. Not a perfect solution, but reusable and recyclable.

Tat said...

Aren't the incidental plastic bags so annoying! No matter how much effort I put into it, they always pile up. I even carry my own plastic bags to the fruit shop instead of using new bags every time. And I still have a pile.

I buy Turkish bread from a kebab shop regularly, and I always ask him to put my bread in paper bags. I think he hates me. Because the paper bag can only fit two bread rolls and I usually get at least five.

Glowless @ Where's My Glow said...

I'm a fan of the zip lock bag - I have them for cloth nappies and wet clothes, but also for food I make in bulk. As long as the bags haven't had raw meat in them, they get washed and reused til they fall apart... my friends tease me but I figure I'm saving money and a little light green :P

Kim said...

I stuck a big note on the back of my front door saying "Kimmy, don't forget your green bags" so that I cannot possibly walk out without seeing it.

I still forget them on a regular basis.

Marcia (123 blog) said...

I'm very good at the supermarket but bad at other kind of shops (clothes shopping, etc.) I'd say i'm light green too, a lovely pastel mint green :)

Christie - Childhood 101 said...

We have always used what comes in from shopping as garbage bin bags and our stack of left overs is quite small (almost non existent at times as we try not to use too many when shopping. Why did I never think of no bag like Tricia suggests???? Off to read her post now!

Jen said...

Feeling inspired by your post. I think I will try the newspaper in the bin once all my plastic bags are gone but that might take a while! I did run out of plastic wrap this week and have decided not to replace it, why does one need it anyway only to just scrunch it up and throw into the bin when finished.

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