Nobody looks good carrying around cheap, ugly, polluting plastic bags. These are some great, earth-friendly ideas for carrying your groceries in style.
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In the last few years, beautiful reusable shopping bags have become more common and popular. That's not only good for Mamma Earth, it's also much more stylish. We got our current set of shopping bags at a Danish supermarket, and the slogan on it could easily be my family's motto: "We ❤️ Food".
Read why we want you to use reusable shopping bags.
I revise this list every once in a while; these were updated in 2021.
Check out these beautiful reusable shopping bags:
For a while, these were my shopping bags, still plastic, I know, mea culpa, but I couldn't resist the design. They lasted for many years. Unfortunately, they seem to be out now. Just don't try to go through airport security with one. TSA agents are not known for their sense of humor.
Below I've included some cool bags that I really liked.
If you're looking for a bag that you can carry with you, these sturdy ones are perfect and very attractive. You'll always be ready for the last-minute grocery run.
This Grab Bag can carry up to 40 lb of groceries at once, and the best part is that it is insulated, to help keep your food fresh until you get home.
These 5 shopping bags come in a little pouch to keep them organized. They are available in five different beautiful prints.
Carry your groceries in style with this elegant grocery bag that is also perfect for a day at the park or the beach.
If you're looking for sturdy and big, these heavy duty Green Bulldog Bags may be what you need.
And this set with fruit prints is equally beautiful, it also folds into small pouches so you can carry them in your handbag for last-minute grocery shopping.
And this is just what the doctor prescribed. What a fun bag!
Why you shouldn't use plastic bags
One species that we wish would become extinct is the plastic bag. Shoppers in supermarkets in the Dominican Republic are used to this ritual: a couple of young people pack your groceries using a scandalous number of plastic bags in the process. Packers often use more than one bag per product, and sometimes double and triple for heavier products.
In the last couple of years, most of the large supermarkets have started offering alternatives but based on our own observation, only a minority of shoppers are embracing this option.
Unless you opt for reusable shopping bags, you may well end up with as many as fifty plastic bags. Multiply this by the number of visits to supermarkets each year in the country, and you have a bag collection the size of Belgium. All over the world, plastic bags are still evident, but in some countries, serious measures to minimize their use are being introduced, mainly due to the increase in environmental awareness among consumers.
Many supermarket chains in Europe and North America charge buyers a small amount for each bag or discount the equivalent of the amount of each used bag. Others sell and encourage the use of reusable bags. Some disposable bags are made of biodegradable plastic. In the old days, supermarkets also put used cardboard boxes near the exit, and many customers used them to pack their groceries.
Some countries have totally banned plastic bags, and a number of cities in countries such as the US and the United Kingdom have declared themselves plastic-bag-free zones.
What's wrong with plastic bags?
When they are buried in the ground plastic items remain there for hundreds of years, and the high volumes that are used daily are filling the garbage dumps.
If burned, the plastic releases toxic gases, adding to air pollution and harming human health.
As for aesthetics, and this is very important in a country that depends on tourism, plastic bags and garbage are kept out of the landscape, or otherwise end up in rivers or the sea, where they harm thousands of marine animals every year.
This is not too healthy for humans either. There are 46,000 pieces of plastic trash floating in every square mile of the ocean, according to the United Nations Environment Programme.
Only one or two percent of all plastic bags used around the world are recycled. In the USA alone, it is estimated that 100 million plastic bags are thrown away every year. This is impossible to visualize.
The only real answer is to reduce the use of plastic bags. The difference between this and other environmental problems is that it is relatively easy to achieve.
What we can do to help reduce plastic pollution:
• Buy a pair of durable bags like any of the ones above (we get a few cents if you buy from the links), but we'd be happy if you just get them anywhere.
• Supermarkets are always asking for comments from customers, it would be good to mention the use of plastic bags and packaging generally. If you wish, talk to the supermarket manager, or contact the parent company stating your concerns, always offering constructive solutions. Let us know what reactions you found.
• If you use plastic bags, try to minimize the amount used, explain it to the packer, without confrontation or preaching too much. Explain why you are concerned about the excessive use of these bags.
• Of course, unless they are totally banned we will always have some plastic bags, but we can reuse them in the house in different ways, especially for garbage disposal. Keep a couple in your vehicle and in your bag so you can use them when you go shopping unexpectedly. You can even return them to the supermarket on your next visit.
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