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Shopping Without Shopping Bags - The Eco Friendly Alternatives

May 24, 2008
On an average, every person who goes shopping is given 280 carrier bags every year. That's almost 17,000 bags each in our lifetime, and what do we do with them all? Sadly the vast majority simply get thrown away. It takes about 20 years for a plastic bag to decompose. What were you doing twenty years ago? Did you buy something from a shop? It may well be that the shop you visited no longer exists, the items you bought long forgotten, but the plastic carrier bag is still sitting somewhere, a part of the natural environment we have created. This means that for every adult alive today there are 5,600 plastic carrier bags waiting to decompose. That's a horrible thought, and it's facts like these which can make us sit up and think about what we are doing to help or hinder this situation.

Last year, enough carrier bags were disposed of in the UK to weigh as much as 70,000 cars, and this is going on year after year. Yet all it really takes is a little thought. If each one of us spent a little extra time thinking about this problem it would be drastically reduced. Reusable carrier bags are available, and it is estimated that a cloth bag can save as much as 1,000 plastic carrier bags - or nearly four years' worth per person.

Shops pass the cost of these free carrier bags on to us as consumers, so we are paying the price in both monetary terms, and environmental terms, for our laziness and ignorance. Often we are handed our groceries in a carrier bag without so much as a thought by either the shop assistant or ourselves. I bought a chocolate bar the other day from my local supermarket, and they handed it to me in a plastic carrier bag! I took it out and handed the bag back to them; they almost seemed astonished that I wouldn't need a bag for my 'shopping'. What really got to me was that this particular chain of supermarkets is supposed to be having a drive on carrier bags, and only the day before I got given a free fridge magnet to remind me to take a reusable carrier bag with me to get my shopping to help save on unnecessary plastic ones. It seemed pretty clear that complacency and habit had overtaken any real concern for such initiatives.

The thing is, we don't see the animals in the wild chocking to death on the plastic rubbish we discard. We are blind to the oceans of plastic rubbish retched over the landscape and rotting in to the natural habitats of the creatures we are supposedly so fond of. Perhaps if these images were made more obvious we would be less complacent. I wonder how people would react if supermarkets printed pictures of animals chocking to death on plastic on the side of these carrier bags? Unlikely to ever become a popular marketing ply, but it's worth thinking about, not because other people should know better, but because we ourselves should accept that we are part of the problem.

Ironically, the supermarkets unpack the goods on their shelves from cardboard boxes, then crush and destroy these boxes, whilst handing out free plastic bags for us to repackage the good into. Using a cardboard box is much sturdier, more environmentally friendly, and can be re-used and recycled. Cloth bags can make a huge difference. Instead of 17,000 plastic bags we could easily get away with just 15 cloth bags in our lifetime. In addition to which, the cloth breaks down into harmless substances very quickly. It's worth a thought, isn't it?
About the Author
Victor Epand is an expert consultant about luggage, cruises, hotels, and shopping. You will find the best marketplace for luggage, cruises, hotels, and shopping at these sites for bags, luggage, hotels, cruise, and shopping, bags, cloth bags.
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