This weekend on the news I heard some frightening statistics on plastic bag waste. The Sierra Club's Sierra magazine estimated that almost 100 billion plastic bags are thrown out each year, and that only 5.2 percent of those are recovered for recycling. But for all the arguments against plastic bags, there are just as many about paper. I'm not expressing my own views here, but it is something that I've been thinking a lot about, so it lead to a decision.
At the grocery store, I've always answered "paper" to the paper or plastic question. The paper bags stood up nicely in the back of my car (try going around a corner with plastic grocery bags in the back - the food ends up scattered all over in the back of your trunk!) They also fit perfectly in my old kitchen trash can, so they were going to good use. Then two years ago, Marc and the girls got me one of those fancy kitchen trash cans that opens automatically, and those paper bags didn't fit anymore. Since I didn't have a use for the paper bags, I purchased the re-usable shopping bags at my grocery store.
They were inexpensive, and I was so excited because the straps were long enough that I could carry multiple bags at a time over my shoulder! Last night we filled 10 of these bags at the grocery store, and I was able to carry 7 of them in from the car at one time because of those awesome straps. They live in my car, and I use them all the time. The best part is, I feel good each time I use them because I'm doing a small part in not generating any extra waste.
In the shop, we used to use paper bags. About 5 years ago we switched to nice, durable, clear plastic bags. I honestly think there are pros and cons to both, but we went with the plastic for several reasons. Most importantly, we want the yarn to be protected when it leaves our shop, in the event it comes back for return. If kept in the plastic bag, it is protected from pet hair, liquid spills and (some) odors. Another reason for the plastic - marketing! When people see yummy yarn right through your bag, they start to think about knitting!
Many of our customers LOVE our clear plastic bags, because they can easily organize their projects by sight. A few of our customers like our bags SO much that they constantly ask us for extra bags. Some of our customers choose to use their own bags when they shop here.
Well, starting tomorrow, we're changing it up a bit. Bring in your own bag, and get a 5 cent credit. It's not much, but it's more than I get at my grocery store. Don't have a reusable bag? You can purchase one of our nice, logo'd bags for just $1.50. That's less than our cost on it.If you do not use re-usable bags, don't worry! With your purchase, you will still get a bag - same as always. For those of you who like the plastic bags SO much that you ask for extras, you can have all the extras you want - at 25 cents each.
When our current supply of plastic shopping bags runs out, we will investigate the other options that are out there. Hey, baby steps! Lots of little baby steps can certainly make a difference.