Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Lola the Eco Dog's Green Tip Challenge #2 - Bring Your Own Bag

We all can relate to this scenario, we go through checkout and the cashier ask "Paper or Plastic". For a moment we pause and think and wonderful what should I say what is the lesser of two evils. Many times, you opt for the plastic bag to save a tree only to have one more plastic bag to add to that already large collection. So you go home, unload and retire those plastic bags underneath the kitchen sink or in a draw. Like the saying goes "Out of sight out of mind". Well, this phrase does not hold true for plastic bags. In your well meaning attempt to de-clutter and save the planet by reducing and reusing. You decide to recycle them for garbage and poop bags for Fido. But in the end the stack never seems to dwindle and off to the store again. Like bunny rabbits in mating season plastic bags just seem to multiply right before your eyes.

There are many well meaning dog owners who reuse free grocery plastic bags to do their part to keep the earth and community clean by picking up dog poo. However, plastic bags are made of petroleum, which is non renewable, does not biodegraded and take up to a 1,000 years to break down. Now that’s a lot of dog years! Even some cities like San Francisco have ban the use of plastic bags to reduce, reduce, and reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfills.

While plastic bags can be reused around the home , it is estimated that less than 3% of bags are recycled. Most plastic bags end up in landfills or are carried off by the wind and litter a nearby tree or park. Some plastic bags may even find themselves floating in a nearby stream only to become the last and final meal for a poor innocent seagull mistaking it for food.

Both don't be deceived like plastic bags, paper bags do their fair share of harm to the planet. In the span of one year, a single US supermarket can go through 60,500,000 paper bags, which is equivalent to about 86,430 trees. Wow!! that's a lot of bark. The production of paper bags takes more energy and generates more waste than the production of plastic bags. Although paper bags are made from a renewable source we cut down trees faster then we plant them which has long term consequences.

So whats a plastic or paper bag hoarder to do? Well the next time you go to the grocery store and are asked the question "Paper or Plastic" the answer should be neither. Take a stance and opt to bring your own reusable tote and be a friend to the environment. Its just that simple, never again do you have to sacrifice the planet at check out. Bringing your own bags (BYOB) when you shop lets you avoid making the lose-lose decision between paper and plastic. Instead opt for a more eco-friendlier alternative a stylish tote.

For all you grrreen fashionista's you can save the planet and don't have to look like a bag lady, gone are the days of burlap sacs. Now you can wear your cause on your shoulder by toting the latest most eco-friendliest reusable totes. BYOB totes comes in all shapes, fabrics, sizes, styles and colors. Going grocery shopping never felt so good and never looked good. So when choosing a reusable tote check out the following:

Hemp: Known for its sustainability and flourishes well with little water and no herbicides or pesticides. If you are looking for a sturdy and durable bag, hemp is a great choice. Not only is it stylish, hemp fiber is eight times stronger than cotton fiber, so it stretches less and is more durable.

  • Hemp is naturally sustainable, durable & soft
  • Hemp is naturally grown without chemicals and requires only ¼ the amount of water per acre compared to cotton
  • Naturally Hypoallergenic & naturally anti-microbial
Organic Cotton: Conventional cotton is the second most chemically dependent crop among all crops and uses 25% of the world's insecticides. So opt for organic items made out of organic cotton which is cultivated without the use of harmful chemicals. If you are looking for something light weight to carry on your arm an organic cotton bag is a must.

Recycled PET: This bags breathes new life into plastic bottles. As the saying goes "One mans trash is another man's reusable tote". Recycled PET is fabric made from post consumer plastic bottles and containers, thereby reducing the amount of waste that goes into the landfill. Not to mention saving energy that would otherwise be used to produce new product from scratch. Great alternative to nylon and is a bit sturdier, making a more durable bag.

Recycled Cotton: Is recovered cotton that comes from the scraps acquired during the processes of spinning, weaving, and cutting process. Up to 40% of cultivated cotton is wasted between the harvesting of the crop and the manufacturing of garments. Now, instead of ending up in landfills, scraps are being recycled and put to good use. These bags are both lightweight and sturdy.

So, as you can see with going green comes many options. But like anything always do your research first to see which bag fits your lifestyle. When choosing bags made from recycled materials, always check the tag to see the percentage of recycled material used. Also, make sure you support companies & products that promote fair trade practices, meaning that the individuals producing the products are treated fairly and paid a fair wage.

Now the only thing left for you to do is remember to bring your reusable tote on your shopping trip. A great idea is to keep the totes in your car. But if you do happen to forget go the extra green mile and leave that plastic & paper behind and instead carry out your groceries by hand. Sure, this sounds a little harsh, but depending on how heavy your groceries are I promise you will never forget your reusable bag again.

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