My parents composted and recycled, used fluorescent lights and turned
out the lights when they weren’t in use. They used space heaters
instead of the heating unit for the house. I didn’t see them as granola
heads, tree huggers or environmentalists. They certainly weren’t
hippies, liberals, radicals or vegetarians. I just thought they were
My parents’ actions have influenced my own life.
I’ve planted trees, shortened my shower time and made recycling an
absolute in our home. I don’t think, however, I truly grasped how my
actions and my family’s actions were affecting the world around us,
until I watched a documentary called An Inconvenient Truth.
AlGore’s book and documentary blasted the public, and fighting global
warming — fighting for the environment — became, well . . . sexy.
Suddenly, the things in our lives that we took for granted, we now
scrutinized. There were so many things we could do to save trees, save
animals, save our selves.
Cognizant of my family’s carbon footprint, I ensure that locally
grown fruits and vegetables grace our refrigerator. Paper products not
made from virgin wood pulp clutter our kitchen and bathroom closets.
Instead of throwing clothes, shoes and other accessories into the
garbage, we sorted and donated them. Batteries, old cell phones and
computers were sent to the appropriate recycling organizations.
When the bagger at the grocery store put our food and sundries into
plastic bags, I went home happily with no concerns. Then I ran into
Whole Foods one day and literally backed into a rack of reusable
shopping bags.”Have these always been here?” I asked the girl behind the
counter. She shot daggers into me with her eyes, “Of course,” she
replied with attitude. Talk about being blind to my surroundings.
According to Whole Foods Market,
it takes about 430,000 gallons of oil to make 100 million plastic bags.
One disposable plastic bag takes more than 1000 years to decompose in a
landfill. Americans use over 100 billion plastic bags a year.
Whole Foods Market stopped offering plastic bags at all their stores
by Earth Day this year. They also give 5 cents for every bag you bring.
Customers also can choose to have their groceries bagged in 100%
recycled paper bags.
Ikea charges customers 5 cents every time they use a plastic bag when
they check-out at their stores. Instead, the famed Scandinavian
furniture and housewares store sells the Big Blue Bag for 59 cents.
The city of San Francisco will ban disposable plastic bags
in supermarkets and large chain drug stores. They are requiring these
stores to offer compostable, recyclable paper or reusable bags instead.
The Los Angeles City Council voted in July
to ban plastic bags from grocery stores by 2010, but only if California
does not impose a 25-cent charge on any consumer that wants the
According to CNN,
China uses a whopping 3 billion plastic bags a day. The Chinese
government has banned plastic bags in all stores nationwide. Production
of these bags are also banned and consumers are charged for any plastic
bags they use.
An article published in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer stated that Bangladesh, Rwanda, Taiwan, Mumbai, and New Delhi have all banned plastic bags.
That day at Whole Foods two years ago, I ended up buying ten bags at
$2.99 (maybe they were even cheaper). Now we have about 35 reusable bags
that we use for groceries, shopping and other miscellaneous errands.
Paper vs. plastic? Just end the controversy and reuse instead.