Tag Archives: plastic bags

Los Angeles Banned Plastic Bags. What Are You Waiting For?

Los Angeles Banned Plastic Bags. What Are You Waiting For?

Los Angeles recently became the biggest city in the country to ban free plastic bags. If you go shopping in Los Angeles, you will soon need to be prepared with your own bags or buy a paper bag for $0.10. That’s great, and a step I expect more places to take in time. But why wait? You can decline plastic bags already and just bring your own.

I’m not suggesting the cheap bags so many stores sell for $1. They work for a time, but aren’t all that durable, and they’re plastic too. Better to find or make more durable bags.

The key here is building up the habit of carrying your bags. If you’re doing it without a ban to remind you, you have to motivate yourself. Find that perfect place to store your reusable bags so that they will come with you when you go shopping. This could be with your purse, on the doorknob, in the car, wherever works for you.

The simple truth is that plastic bags are most often a waste. Some people find a way to reuse the bags, but too many end up in the landfill or as litter. You don’t have to wait for someone else to demand that you stop being a part of the problem – you can choose that for yourself.

Have You Added the 4th R to Your Thinking?

Anyone concerned about the environment knows the 3 Rs – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. But there’s a 4th R, and it goes in front of the rest.  It’s related to Reducing, but may be a stronger reminder that you should be cutting back on what you buy.

It’s Refuse.

Refuse that plastic bag to carry your purchases. Refuse single use containers. Refuse unnecessary packaging whenever possible.

This isn’t easy to do in some ways. Packaging isn’t something you have much control over in some ways. Dodging that plastic bag when you shop by bringing your own reusable bags is easy, drinking water from a reusable bottle is easy once you build the habit, but actual product packaging you have only a little control over.

Even if you just do the easy things, you’re making a difference. Millions of water bottles are thrown out every year by Americans. Use your reusable bottle and help others to see how much fun it is to have your own bottle. It’s not all that inconvenient, after all, and the savings versus buying single serve, single use bottles comes quickly.

Pack your reusable bags in your trunk or someplace else where you’ll actually remember to bring them every time you go shopping, not just at the grocery store, but anywhere you shop.

The most challenging part is refusing to buy things that are overpackaged. It’s the area you have the least control over.

Some things you can buy online with less packaging, such as those products available with Amazon’s Frustration-Free Packaging. The selection is limited, but better than when it started. You can also seek out products locally that aren’t as heavily packaged, but you still face the challenge of getting something that isn’t heavily packaged.

When you’re stuck with packaging, think about what can be done to reuse it before you send it for recycling. Anything biodegradable can go in the compost pile. Some packaging materials can be used in crafts or to store other things you already own.

You can also avoid excess packaging by buying in bulk when possible. Buy concentrates and refills when they’re available. This is a habit that can save you money as well as reduce waste.

In general, we need to think when we shop. It’s not just what we buy, it’s how we buy it. Think about what you really need, consider the packaging, consider how you’re going to bring it home and try to make the best decision for your situation. You can make a difference by showing that you care how things are packaged and using less single use packaging whenever possible.

10 Uses for Old Plastic Bread Bags

Bread is one of those products that is hard to buy outside of a plastic bag. You can sometimes get it in paper, or you can make it at home, but bread in plastic bags is by far the most common sort.

What to do with all those bags?

Plastic bread bags are highly reusable. They’re a great size for many things. Keep the little plastic fastener to have an easy way to reclose the bag when you’re reusing it.

1. Homemade bread storage.

If you sometimes buy bread at the store and other times make it at home, as I do, keep those bags and use them to store the homemade bread after it has cooled.

2. Short term freezer bag.

While bread bags aren’t ideal for preventing freezer burn, they are pretty good at holding some things in the freezer. Best is if it doesn’t matter too much if you get a touch of freezer burn, such as when you’re storing bones for making broth later on. They can also hold hamburger patties quite well. Just think of how they are packaged if you buy them at the store!

I wouldn’t recommend using them for long term storage as a general rule in the freezer simply because it’s too hard to keep them from letting air in. If you want to store something for longer, double bagging is probably a good choice to limit the chances for air to get into the bag and damage the food.

3. Taking the dog for a walk.

Yes, these bags work great for doggie doo. They’re easy to carry along and tie off when you’ve cleaned up after your pet.

4. Clean the cat’s litter box.

Yes, they’re a great size for what kitty does too.

5. Trash bag for the car.

Going on a road trip? Sometimes you know you’re going to be generating a bit of trash while on the road. Once again, the compact size of a bread bag makes it a fair choice for keeping in the car to keep the trash under control.

6. Taking food scraps to the compost pile.

Sometimes the compost pile isn’t as convenient as you might like. You can buy a kitchen compost bin, and dump that periodically into the outdoor compost bin, or you can use something like the old bread bag.

The advantage the bag has is that you can just shove it into the freezer if you like. It only uses up the space the scraps require, plus a tiny bit more. This means you don’t have to worry about food scraps stinking up the kitchen until you can get them outdoors.

7. Store other stuff.

Using plastic bags you already have can be a great choice for storing small parts around the house. This is especially true if otherwise you’d be using a bag you had to buy for storing things. While they’re not especially strong, they’re not going to tear at the drop of just any hat either.

8. Take them traveling.

You often have things you need to keep away from the rest of your stuff when you travel. While modern air travel restrictions can sharply limit how much liquid you carry, other ways of traveling can mean carrying many products you’d hate to have leak onto your clothes.

Drop makeup, sunscreen, toothpaste and so forth into a plastic bread bag and close it off before putting them into your suitcase, even if you use an outer pocket or a makeup bag for them. That extra bit of protection can save you a big cleanup if your bag gets banged around too much and something starts to leak.

9. Use as packing materials.

Sending a package somewhere? You can use a bunch of old bread bags as padding in the box rather than buying packing materials.

10. Recycle them.

Some, but not all bread bags can be recycled. They aren’t all numbered, so it can be a bit hard to tell. If there’s a number 7 with the recycling logo, it’s not recyclable. Otherwise you have a good chance, and you can put them in with the plastic grocery bags.