Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Plastic Bags Blow!

I don't really want to use my blog for standing on a soap box and preaching about political or environmental issues. After all, it's supposed to be all about the food. But I wanted to make a quick post about a great website call

The overuse of plastic bags is such a huge problem to the environment and if each one of us decided to stop using them when possible, then this would truly make a great difference in saving the planet. At Reusable Bags, they sell a variety of different bags, mostly made from organic cottons or hemp, that you can take to the supermarket when you do your groceries to reduce the number of plastic bags in circulation and their impact on the environment.

Some facts from

  • Each year, an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide. That comes out to over one million per minute. Billions end up as litter each year.
  • According to the EPA, over 380 billion plastic bags, sacks and wraps are consumed in the U.S. each year.
  • According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. goes through 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually. (Estimated cost to retailers is $4 billion)
  • Plastic bags don’t biodegrade, they photodegrade—breaking down into smaller and smaller toxic bits contaminating soil and waterways and entering the food web when animals accidentally ingest.
  • Hundreds of thousands of sea turtles, whales and other marine mammals die every year from eating discarded plastic bags mistaken for food.

The solution would appear to be simple: Stop using the bags. However they are such an ingrained part of society, that this seems unlikely to happen. However, in Ireland, the addition of a plastic tax (or Plastax) caused a 90% reduction in the use of plastic bags. So, it can be done. We just need to change our habits.

I know all the food bloggers take great joy in going to the supermarket and farmers markets and I think if we all tried to reduce the number of plastic bags we consume, then it would be a start. I am a culprit too, but have just purchased a bunch of string bags, so that I may so no to that cashier when she asks if I want paper or plastic. I feel terrible that I fell into such bad habits, as when I would go shopping with my parents at a young age, they would always take along their reusable bags. After moving to the States, I became part of the great machine that thrives on the consumption of plastic bags, but I feel great that I can do my small part in changing the world, simply by "byob" or bring your own bag.

OK, I'll hop of my soap box now. But I encourage everybody to check out the facts at and even go that little extra mile and purchase some reusable bags. They even donate 1% of their profits to saving the environment. Its easy to believe that one person can't make a difference, but one person can become many and together we can make a huge difference to the fate of our planet.

Plastic bags consumed this year:

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