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Why bans on plastic grocery bags are sweeping the country

Kerri Stenson

As plastic bag bans sweep the country, more and more families are looking for convenient, reusable solutions to cart their groceries and other goods. And corporations are paying attention.


t This summer, Safeway announced an initiative to reduce paper and plastic bag use by one billion by the end of 2015. Toys “R” Us has gotten in on the action with recyclable tote bags featuring children’s artwork, with proceeds going toward Save the Children. Target gave away 1.5 million reusable bags on Earth Day 2013, and to date their shoppers have avoided the use of 475 million plastic bags.

t But besides encouraging these large companies to go green, what are the benefits to you and your community when you trade disposable bags for reusable ones? Here are four fantastic reasons to make the switch once and for all.

1. Your individual carbon footprint shrinks

t Each year, an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide. That’s over one million plastic bags used per minute. But by opting out of plastic bag usage, you drop those numbers significantly, giving both the planet and your green conscience a boost.

2. Your family creates less mess

t Did you know that the average family accumulates 60 plastic bags in only four trips to the grocery store? Even more astounding: The average American family takes home almost 1,500 plastic shopping bags each year. If you’re anything like us, you hang onto those bags too, for “just in case” scenarios (just in case I need a baggie for dog-walking messes, just in case I need to throw away a dirty diaper, etc.). But just think of the shelving space you’ll win back by getting rid of all that plastic. And the same goes for plastic sandwich baggies, too. Check out Edible Silicon Valley for how to tote a zero-waste lunch box.

3. Your community rides the green wave

t Not only has California become the first state to enact a statewide ban, but there are currently hundreds of U.S. cities with plastic bag bans, and many more on the way. Plastic bags are quickly becoming a thing of the past, and reusable bags are taking their place.

4. You can save the earth, and flaunt your style

t OK, so here’s where the rubber meets the road. Maybe you’ve already made the switch, but you’re still dealing with that tangle of random reusable bags in your car trunk… you know, the canvas one you got from your company’s 5K, mashed in a ball inside the one from your gym, mashed in an even larger ball inside a holiday-edition freebie from your gas station? Yeah. Here’s a solution for all that: Urban Market Bags, which are not only super chic, but come in multiple bags to a pack, thereby solving your thousand-mismatched-bags-wreaking-havoc-in-your-trunk problem. Oh, and they come in a ton of cute colors, too.

t As women consumers, we wield enormous power. Our shopping habits get noticed, and this is one small lifestyle change we can make that has a huge global impact. Why not do it in style?

Photo credit: RonTech2000/E+/Getty Images

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