Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Disposable Plastic Bags

They're talking about "one use" plastic again and at least one state has banned one-use plastic bags altogether. I know something they don't know and that's many "one use" plastic bags (as in the ones your grocery store uses) are used many times over in various ways. For some of us, they take the place of trash bags, beach bags, toy bags, dirty clothes bags, doggy clean up bags, yarn for knitting or crocheting, garden produce bags and more.

That's one way to look at disposable plastic bags, but when the cost comes from our own pockets, as other states have added fees or fines to using plastic bags, a frugal mind begins to think of other things.

Cloth bags are inexpensive, sometimes found in thrift stores and the simple ones are easy to make with a sewing machine, by hand, knitted, crocheted or even of plastic canvas/needlepoint. Once made or bought, they can be used for food and other shopping for a very long time.

But what about the other uses? The most important use for plastic grocery bags in my house in for trash can liners. How much progress will we make if we need to buy plastic bags instead of getting them for free?

I speak from a frugal point of view. I realize that not everyone reuses those bags and even the most frugal of us probably can't reuse every one, so there are still many that wind up in landfills. And, by the way,  how do they get into the ocean?


  1. They get into the ocean the same way other trash does, people are inconsiderate and just throw them out, or they allow the bag to blow away (I admit it is difficult to keep these bags from blowing away when it is windy out) but there is always something to put on top of it to prevent that by just being aware.

    Like you, I use mine to line trash cans and it saves me money on doggie bags (or would these anti- plastic bag people rather I leave the dog poop?) and it makes a wonderful bag to clean the cat litter box. My son uses them to pack overnight things when he spends the night at a friends. (However, I do have fabric bags, but less clean up if something like the shampoo bottle would open up) so yeah, I am pro-plastic bags. Saves money and time.

  2. Oh, Pat, I really hope they do not "do away with" or start charging for the one-use plastic bags!
    Honestly, I use them for EVERYTHING!!!!! All day long!
    Some thrift stores WELCOME donations of them!
    Gardeners use them when picking veggies--then use others to "share with the neighbors".
    I've used them for lawn work debris--weeding out flower beds, pulling weeds....
    Aldi's grocery chains don't provide free bags, so many people take their own plastic ones from other shopping trips elsewhere.
    I use them to send random items home with people who visit.
    Adult kids return empty "Tupperware" containers to the cook who'd sent them something yummy (Momma??)
    Yard sales are great places to have them for customers who buy several items and can't quite carry them easily.
    Wet bathing suits and towels from the pool....
    Dirty or wet shoes that would otherwise soil or muss the car can be stored inside them....
    Walkers stuff them in pockets and do a bit of neighborhood clean-up along the trail or street....
    Certain smelly empty cans (tuna, salmon, sardines....) can be tied up and then tossed in with the rest of the items in the kitchen can until all can be removed...
    Or empty cans of colas....sticky, sweet tea cups....and other can be tied up in these when tossed in a open public can. This can help deter bees and flies.
    Feminine hygiene items can be individually wrapped and tossed in the can without drawing attention to what is inside...
    And disposable diapers........
    Aughhhhh! What would we DO without these wonderful little bags????

    And, as always Pat, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your thought-provoking blog!!!!!

    Pam, Knoxville

  3. Plastics are a tough one because they are really useful but have a wider impact then most of us are aware of.

    One of the challenges with plastic bags is that they are only designed for single use. You may be able to use them for more than one purpose, which I applaud you for, but they are cheaply made and start breaking down into smaller components (micro plastics) with each use. This means that some of the dust in our homes (that we breathe in!) are actually micro plastics particles from regular plastic usage. They’ve even found micro plastics along hiking trails from synthetic clothing materials rubbing up against bushes and rocks. It breaks down that easily, especially the pliable plastic material. Plastics also doesn’t biodegrade, it just breaks into smaller components overtime. Most of the plastic waste in the ocean are actually tiny micro plastic particles. Once I started digging deeper into this matter, I was horrified!

    Plastic bags actually have a slightly better track record of being recycled compared to other plastics, if they are clean and uncontaminated. They still estimate however that only 9% of plastics are actually being recycled worldwide.

    Some of the bags that end up in the landfill from being used as garbage liners, etc., still end up blowing out landfills with the wind and into water ways and the surrounding eco system. Of course, there are many who also litter and this has the same effects.

    The book Life Without Plasticic by Chantal Plamondon and Jay Sinha was an eye opening read for me.

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