It isn’t difficult. Walk around your home and take out your stash of canvas and other reusable material bags. You know you have them – from tradeshows, specialty stores, totes you’ve received as gifts but never used. You might even be surprised how many you have – I found twelve! Put them in the trunk of your car or behind/on the back seat. Take them into every grocery/discount/drug/card/retail/department store you frequent. Say, “No, thank you, I brought my own bag(s).” Clerks will sometimes give you a funny look, frown, say “your bag will get dirty if I put this in there.” It’s OK, they wash. Be gentle, yet firm. Say something funny, like “I’m saving a plastic tree.” You might even get a smile. In a pinch, reuse and recycle the paper and plastic you already have. Pause and think: Do I really need a plastic bag for that one item?
You CAN do it. When I tell people I do this, they say, “Oh, I can never remember to use them.” Do you always forget to put on your underwear or brush your teeth? If you make it a habit, you WILL remember and you will feel good about it, too. Ask your kids/spouse/partner/friend to help you remember. Don’t have any bags? Go to your local store and purchase one or two to start, then purchase one per week until you have five or six, which is enough to package up a full grocery cart. Are you creative? Sew up a few of your own bags in fun colors. They are quick, easy and inexpensive to make, and our local fabric stores have a wide variety of patterns to choose from. It’s a great project for your Girl Scout troup or other group. Why not make up a bunch for a fundraiser?
And retailers, a little help, please? Ask your checkout clerks and helpers to be nice to your customers who use their own bags. Ask them to remember to give your customers the reusable bag credit without being asked, and without having to ask 10 different people for the code in the register. Instruct them to use fewer paper and plastic bags at the checkout – you don’t need to bag a gallon of milk or juice, or a 5lb bag of potatoes. Make it a habit! Consider a promotion to give canvas bags away with a $50 or $100 purchase – stamp your store name on the side for free advertising. Sell good-quality bags at a reasonable price!
You can do it. Say “NO” to plastic and bags. See these links for more ideas:
Check out Robin's great Eco-Bags at Quilt-Antics
More about the UKs use of bags on Anne Wigfull's blog Grains in the Wind