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Ecological Awareness

by Jaye Sudar

    The average American uses six plastic bags a week. At our present population, that is over 100 billion plastic bags a year.  They can take between 15 and 1000 years to decompose, and as they are made from petroleum, that eventually adds to the cost of fuel.  That is nearly 12 million barrels of oil for a year of bags.  They are also one of the most prolific pollution items on the planet, as they are found floating in the oceans from pole to pole.

    What′s wrong with this picture?  Our blasé attitude.  We blithely go shopping and don′t think twice about how we are getting that bag of carrots or toilet paper home.  We are not in the habit of using our own bags.  Yes, in the last year some of the big stores have finally started to sell reusable bags, but they actually depend on the consumer′s forgetfulness in order to increase profit.  I know I′ve done it. Headed to the grocery store, gotten my items and when I get to the checkout, no bags.  So, I buy another one for .99 cents.  Granted, each reusable bag will save 22,000 bags from ending up in landfills.  However, I have to remember to grab the bags in the first place!

    It isn′t necessary to buy grocery bags.  You can make them.  Sewn, knitted or crocheted bags work just as well as the kind you buy.  If you don′t sew, see if a friend can run up a few for you.  This way they can be as colorful or creative as you wish.  The important thing is to get into the habit of using reusable bags.

    While you work on your plastic bag habit, take a good look at just how much plastic comes in your door and out into the garbage.  An Englishwoman, Christine Jeavans, was amazed at just how much plastic she uses and throws away in a month.  In order to try and fix her plastic habit, she has pledged to go a month using as little plastic as possible.

    Perhaps if we as consumers change our habits, the retail industry will take note and amend theirs.