Are You a Bag Lady?

Ikea just announced a new plan to charge customers for each plastic bag they use. With the popularity of Ikea, I doubt this will affect their sales (by that I mean that I doubt people will stop going to Ikea because of a 5-cents-a-bag charge).

Half Price Books has instituted a different polic
y with the same end goal to reduce plastic bag usage: they give away free reusable canvas tote bags with any purchase over $30. We're big Half Price Books fans, and we now have more than one bag. I love them- they're great overnight bags for the kids, great for the boys to play with, and perfect for toting books around.

When we were in Hong Kong, we were impressed with a community-wide habit of carrying reusable bags to stores for groceries, books, and other purchases. Hong Kong residents throw away over 35 million plastic bags each year, and city efforts to educate consumers of the environmental impact have been effective. You c
ould spot people on their way to the store because they had empty canvas bags and rolling carts: people there are becoming committed to environmental protection.

Americans throw away over 100 billion plastic bags each
year; the ecological impact is obvious. But the spiritual implication has become fuzzy, in this modern age where politically-conservative Christians have written off environmentalists as kooks. However, as Christians, we ought to be concerned with being good stewards of God's creation.

Studies show that paper bags don't have an environmental "edge" over plastic... the real answer is that we ought to be more intentional about using sturdy, reusable bags. And when we forget (as we all can do from time to time) to bring a reusable bag when we buy groceries, we need to make sure we re-use
the plastic bags that we get from stores.

Here are some ideas:
  • Keep at least one sturdy, reusable bag in the trunk of your car.
  • Pull the bag out of the trunk before you leave your house to head to the store, so that you will remember to bring it in with you.
  • Use the bags for groceries, at clothing stores, when you purchase books, and any other place where you're likely to get a plastic bag.
  • When you get plastic bags from retailers, use them as trash bags in bathroom trash cans, to tie up stinky diapers, to wrap up freezer foods to give another layer against frostbite, to take items to donation centers, or re-use them for your own purposes.

Get more ideas and motivation at Let's do our part to keep from making a negative impact on the beautiful world God created for our enjoyment and for His glory!


Christina said...

Another idea is to donate them to your local library. In our town they give them to people to carry their books home in.

the blackwells said...

I have actually enjoyed living in a more environmentally conscious society over here in England. IKEA already charges for their bags here as do many other stores at the equivalent of 10 cents. Tesco (the big SuperTarget, Walmart type store here) implemented a reuse campaign over here. They encourage you to use reusable bags or your old plastic bags when you come to the store. When you do that you get added points on your Tesco card (that adds up to money back later). Since they started the campaign last September they report that nearly 200,000 bags have been saved in our local store. It's amazing how small steps can really make a big difference.

Plus your children are always noticing the small things. The other day we were already out and about and we stopped at Tesco before heading home. Silas didn't think we were allowed to go to the store without bags in hand. :)