Why You Should Use Reusable Grocery Bags

Some of my favorite reusable grocery bags. Original image taken by David Wilder.

Some of my favorite reusable grocery bags. Original image taken by David Wilder.

In observance of International Plastic Bag Free Day, I thought it would be worth writing about the problems with single-use plastic bags and the benefits of using reusable grocery bags.

I need to admit upfront that I am fairly new to the concept of using reusable bags. It wasn't until I started dating my environmentally-conscious girlfriend two years ago that I developed a regular practice of using reusable bags. Before that time, I used plastic bags when shopping just like the average American consumer. But after spending a couple years with reusable bags, I have come to realize that it is not difficult to make the change to using reusable bags, and they offer several benefits as well!

Single-use plastic bags can be extremely convenient for unplanned shopping trips, offering an easy way to carry new items from a retailer to your home. But most plastic bags are used for an extremely short period of time—usually less than 25 minutes before they are tossed aside. These discarded bags remain on Earth up to 1000 years before finally decaying, which has a drastic impact on our environment. To complicate the issue, plastic bags are discarded millions of times every day, which adds up very quickly.

There are so many plastic bags in our oceans that enormous reefs, which are comprised primarily of plastic waste, span hundreds of miles underwater. These plastic reef mountains should serve as a wake-up call for humanity to realize that we must stop polluting our home, the Earth. International Plastic Bag Free Day serves as a reminder that our consumption patterns have a real effect on the environment and that there are steps that each and every one of us can take to decrease our personal waste output.

If you are inspired to make a change in your shopping behavior, please consider bringing your own reusable bag the next time you check out at the register. Even if you only do this today or this weekend, you will be making a positive impact on the environment.

Some of the benefits of using reusable grocery bags include:

  • Benefitting the environment
  • Sturdier than plastic bags
  • Provides multiple uses other than just shopping
  • Some retailers offer discounts for using reusable bags
  • Various styles to choose from to align with your fashion style
  • Many retailers are starting to require customers to shell out extra cash for plastic bags!

Tips for using reusable bags:

  • Keep a selection of reusable bags in your vehicle
  • Ask retailers if they offer discounts for reusable bags
  • Don't feel shy about declining plastic bags, even in places like restaurants!

I definitely encourage you to get on the reusable bag bandwagon. It's not a difficult change to make, and you will be benefitting the planet, your wallet, and your style by incorporating reusable bags into your life. Next time you have the opportunity, plan ahead and bring your reusable bags into the store with you and breathe easily knowing that you are making a positive difference in the world.