Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Day Without a Bag

You know those web searches you start, thinking you're going to find one thing and you find another? I was searching recycled gifts. (Go! Look! I found some great stuff.) I also found out that today's a holiday! Whoopee! December doesn't have nearly enough holidays in it.

Today's A Day Without A (Disposable) Bag, "Our Holiday Gift to the Environment." Heal The Bay sponsors this second annual "Day" in an effort to address a huge problem. For folks who haven't tried it, now's your opportunity to see how it feels to BYOBag when you shop. Kinda like the Great American Smoke-out. No commitment, just a toe in the water.

Here's a quote from the website: "More than 6 billion plastic bags are used in L.A. County each year. Disposable bags cost our fiscally strained cities up to 17 cents per bag for disposal (this does not even include the environmental costs). Plastic bags are made from fossil fuels. Americans use over 380 billion bags every year, throwing away this precious, non-renewable resource."

I took this photo in the hills above Santa Paula. It's beautiful, empty country. In the middle of nowhere we stopped so John could take a picture with his cell phone. I turned and there was this...bag.

I don't think the problem's insurmountable. I'm seeing more and more reusable totes at the farmer's market, the grocery store and other retail shops. People make fashion statements with them in all kinds of styles. So while you're calling me Pollyanna (or some other moniker of your choosing), do the world a favor and pick up a reusable tote bag for your shopping today. Then use it again tomorrow. And the next day, too. And so on. You get my drift.

21 comments:

Cafe Observer said...

I agree with BYOBag. The only problem I have with it is I often LMOBag in the car.

Santa Paula is indeed beautiful country. I wunder if there is a Santa Petrea as well.

Vanda said...

I have a whole bunch of canvas bags in the car, use them all the time. At Porto's they know me as the woman who has her own bag.

Unfortunately I still need some of the other kind for cat litter disposal.

Dina said...

Today?? You're kidding! This is the ONE day of the year I forgot to take my Heifer tote bags to the grocery.
Striking picture.

HearkenCreative said...

I love the IKEA canvas bags: so big you could fit all the furnishings (at least IKEA furnishings) for an entire bedroom in one. But, like Cafe Observer says, I happen to LMOBag in the car way too often.

Thanks for the beautiful shot and the reminder.

Petrea said...

I have two suggestions for those who leave their reusable bags in the car! Either buy a new reusable bag at the store, or walk the few feet back to your car and get your reusable bag! It's that easy!

Considering the unspeakable damage these bags cause to our environment, it's a minor inconvenience.

Vanda, I found biodegradable poo bags at Whole Foods. The dog bags are $5 or $6 for 50 bags. I don't know what they have for kitty litter but you might check it out.

It may not be possible to completely wean ourselves from the plastic bags. At the farmers market I still use them for packing up my tomatoes, fruit, etc. I use the ones I used last week until they can't be used any more, then I put them in the recycle bin.

Santa Petrea? Not this year.

HearkenCreative said...

Uh oh...she's calling us on our laziness. Guilty as charged! -- I'll walk back to my car. IKEA's bag was only $.59, so I bought one.

Bernie K. said...

"In the middle of nowhere we stopped so John could take a picture with his cell phone. I turned and there was this...bag ...I don't think the problem's insurmountable."

No do I. It's simple, really: just get John back out to that desolate spot. Convince him you just want to get a better picture of him. Make stealthy rustling sounds to attract the bag and, when it pounces, stay clear. Suffocation can take a few minutes, especially if John's a big guy. Afterward, it should be simple to hide his body in the sand, and you & Baggie can run off together for some disposable fun. Happens all the time.

Bernie K. said...

C.Observer: To observe a Santa Petrea, just slide your canid eyes to the left, on her blog's homepage.

Vanda said...

I'm afraid the doggie poo bags are too small. I need to do research.

Tash said...

Can I call you Anna Polly? (I'M JUST KIDDING...COULDN'T RESIST.)
I am however always skeptical of statistics that state there is such a huge problem with anything or vice-a-versa that say there is no problem with anything. That said, I fully support the use of the reusable bag AND I try to have a wide variety on hand with pretty logo's and colors - Trader Joe's is nice, Albertsons forest green with yellow tree is lovely, Pavilion's bag with a big pink fight breast cancer symbol to name a few better ones. Just think, my grandmother lugged her shopping daily from the farmer's market in net bags (on a stroller - she was clever), why can't I from store to car/car to kitchen!

Christie said...

I have 7! I love them! Thankfully, we do have recycling available for the things that do come in plastic bags. (At Sprawl-Mart, no less!)

I see more people using these bags now and I'm glad. It doesn't take much effort and is something small that you can do to help reduce what we use!

altadenahiker said...

Ok, ok, I'll try to remember next time. But I do need something for dog walking, because I try to be responsible in that arena as well.

altadenahiker said...

Oh wait a minute. Shit. I see you've done your research there as well. Ok, ok.

Petrea said...

Bernie, the bag was sneaking up on him. Terrifying.

Vanda, I thought as much. Like Karin says, "shit" is the word. Using plastic bags for this purpose is at least reusing them. Trouble is they get into the landfills and don't biodegrade. There must be a solution but I haven't researched cat poo.

Tash, you can call me Dave. Anything you want. Hey, and you're not restricted to grocery store logos. I've seen reusable totes in boutiques. You know, like I hang out in all the best places where they sell, um, chic high fashion tote bags.

Christie, "Sprawl-Mart!" That's a hoot. I do not love that store by any means, but at least they recycle bags and sell prescriptions at prices real humans can afford.

USelaine said...

Another way to reduce the number of plastic bags in the system is to charge for them at the point of purchase. They did this in Hungary a dozen years ago, and people just reused the same bags over and over instead of buying new ones every time.

Great post, P.

Alexa said...

I belong to the Park Slope Food Coop, in Brooklyn, NY—where they decided some months ago to do away with plastic carry-away bags altogether. We do recycle the cardboard boxes, so you can use those, but otherwise you have to bring your own. And —guess what—we do!

Cafe Observer said...

P, that's a wunderful idea for those of us who LMOBag in our cars: simply buy another each & every time we 4get!
Or, go back to your car to get it when you remember u 4 got it while at the checkout!

Petrea said...

That's a good idea, Elaine. And isn't California toying with the idea Alexa proposes? Or is that just LA County? I'd like to see it pass, or at least a version of it. We can make do without these bags. We got along fine without them when I was a kid.

Isabel said...

Phew! Finally a post I can pass with flying colors! Not only do I have hoards of canvas bags for the car, but the bio doggie poop bags as well! I have noticed, though, that the bigger "chain" markets (Ralph's, Vons, etc) still look at you a little funny when you bring your own in... while TJ's and Whole Foods have now put bag reminders at the door before you go in. And don't forget to bring them to places like Staples and the pharmacy as well!

Petrea said...

Hi Isabel,
You go! I've started taking my own bags to gift shops and other stores as well. Plus my Walgreen's is offering reusable bags for sale at the check-out counter. It's not just for groceries anymore. Reusables are all the rage, dahling.

Kathy H said...

When I first saw the title of your post, I thought it said "A Day Without a Blog." How horrible would that be!!!!