I this episode Gin discusses plastic bag alternatives and explains why not all bags are created equal. With some great tips on how to remember your reusable bags each shopping trip, don’t miss out on these quick and easy tips!
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With Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia joining the other Australian states in banning the supply of the single use plastic bag, we will finally see long overdue changes in environmental impact from our big supermarket chains. There are some fantastic alternatives to plastic bags out there, but be careful – some options aren’t as good as you may think.
In this episode, I explain the options you have and point out which bags to stay clear of and which ones to steer towards.
Why the Ban?
Every single piece of plastic that has ever been created, still remains in our environment in some form or another. It seems that the big supermarket chains are finally taking some responsibility for the huge impact their plastic bag supply has created on the environment. With unequivocal evidence of the harm of plastic on our marine life and natural environment, these changes are well overdue.
Bags to Avoid
The “Reusable” Plastic Bag
Unfortunately, the supermarkets aren’t as environmentally conscious as they’d have us believe. Even though the single use bag has disappeared, they are still selling an alternative, heavier duty plastic bag for around 15 cents if you forget to bring your own. Sure, this bag is a bit tougher and you’ll be able to use it several times, but it’s still plastic, doesn’t have great durability and will end up in landfill or the waterways sooner rather than later. Avoid these bags!
The ‘Green’ Bag
This is the ubiquitous bag that we all have about 50 of in the laundry! Toted as the ‘green’ bag because of it’s colour, not it’s environmental credentials, this is the most common bag people use when doing the reusable shopping bag thing. Although these ones are durable and last a long time, it’s important to know that they are actually made of polypropylene (plastic number 5), so aren’t your best option. Studies have shown that you’d need to use this around 104 times for the impact on the environment to actually have a positive impact on the environment, and get this – if they are only used 52 times then their impact on global warming is actually greater than that of single-use plastic bags! Yikes.
So if you already have a heap of these, my tip is to keep a stash in your car so you’re never stuck without one and have to buy a new one. When the handles start to come away, I also sew them back on to prolong the life of the bag. It doesn’t take long, and by even sewing a small piece of square cloth with the handle, it makes it even stronger.
Better Plastic Bag Alternatives
The Jute Bag
Now to the fun stuff. The much better plastic bag alternatives.
Jute is a natural material. The bags are durable and even look cool! The best part is that at the end of their life, they biodegrade. Everyones a winner! You can pick these babies up from local markets, health food stores and online at places like Biome.
Make sure you check the inside of the bag before you buy it though. I was in a rush one day and thought I was doing the right thing by purchasing one from the supermarket. It wasn’t until I got home that I realised it had a thin plastic lining all through it. Bugger!
The Organic Cotton String and Shopping Bag
Keep your eyes out for these ones at markets, cool homeware shops and online (Biome has them too).
These are nnother sturdy bag made from natural materials. The string ones look hip and retro, and are great for carrying fresh produce – a must use when you’re visiting your local farmers market.
The Silky Scrunch-Up Bags
These little beauties are my hands down favourites. The great thing about them is that they scrunch up to a tiny size and can easily be fitted into your handbag. I keep two in my handbag and they have saved me countless times from having to use plastic bags on impromptu stops at the supermarket or fruit shop.
Recycled Produce Bags
Hooray for Onya’s produce bags! Made from recycled plastic drink bottles, these fine mesh drawstring bags come in a 5 or an 8 pack and stuff down into a brightly coloured pouch the size of your fist. They easily attach it to your green bags so you don’t forget them – so good for loose leaf spinach and any fruit or veg!
Gin’s Top 5 Tips for Remembering your Reusable Bags
- Carry a stash in the back of your car. When you get home and unpack them, get into a habit of putting them beside the front or back door to take back out to the car.
- Carry the silk type bags around in your handbag. They scrunch up and take up hardly any room and are always good for an emergency grocery visit.
- Start visiting local farmers markets for fresh produce. As well as supporting local farmers, it’s a place where you just have to use your own bags.
- Plan ahead and do one weekly shop – less trips to the shops means less opportunities to forget the bags.
- Write “BAGS” in caps at the top of every shopping list you write.
I’d love to hear from you if you have any tips on plastic bag alternatives, or how you remember to bring your reusable bags. The more tips we can share the better! Let me know in the comments below.
Biome – https://www.biome.com.au/
Onya – https://www.onyalife.com/