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Reusable Grocery Bags
Paper or plastic? The answer between the two is not always clear.
Paper Causes Air and Water Pollution
On the one hand paper bags causes huge amounts of pollution. Jim Moran, a Virginia congressman that introduced an Earth Day resolution states that the manufacture of paper bags causes close to 70% more air and 50% more water pollution than the manufacture of plastic bags. The millions of trees that are needed for the manufacture of paper bags can't easily or quickly be replaced.
Recycling Plastic Causes Particles to Be Released in the Air
On the other hand both degrading and recycling plastic bags causes minute particles of heavy metals to be released the air. Not only are they taken in to the body with each breath, they are pulled to earth with the rain and get into the water supply where they are ingested. Not a comforting thought.
Plastic bags can be found blowing across open fields, along highways, and half submerged in lakes. They decorate the upper branches of trees and are an eyesore. They can be found in the Pacific Ocean, swirling with the rest of the plastic trash. One study shows that only about 5% of plastic bags get recycled.
We need a better option. We have a better option.
Reusable Grocery Bags
Green shopping bags are available in many stores, on the internet, and through small cottage industries. They are made from several different types of materials, can be as plain or fancy as you like, and best of all, they cause very little impact on the environment.
The re-usable shopping bags are washable. Just throw them in with any load of cold water wash. Hang them outside to dry and they are just like new.
The hardest part of using reusable grocery tote bags for many people is remembering to take them to the store. The easiest way to deal with this is to keep them in your car so that they are always available to you. The bags don't take up much room and you can keep them, folded neatly, in a clear plastic bin. When you head into the store, grab them and take them in. After you unpack the groceries at home just put them back in the car and they will be there when you need them.
Types of Reusable Bags
Many grocery store chains have designed their own reusable bags with their logo on them. They are often made of plasticized canvas or canvas like material and very cheaply made. In addition, they are basic bags, utilitarian in nature but not very aesthetically pleasing. Wash tem a few times and they may fall apart. Remember the adage, "You get what you pay for." This is true with these bags. The price is generally from $1.00 to $1.50 and most stores offer a five-cent per bag discount on your groceries when you use them.
You can buy the bags online as well. These tend to be more fashionable, better made, and often you are supporting a work at home mom. Because they are hand made they are often more expensive. Some benefits of these reusable grocery bags are:
- Custom look
- Variety of sizes
- Many styles
- Better made
You can often find specialized bags to fit your specific needs. For example:
- Bulk items
- Organic cotton
- Variety of sizes
- Different handle styles
- Gussets to make the bag stand up
- Specialty fabric designs
Free Patterns for Reusable Bags
Another way to have customized tote bags is to make them yourself at home. They aren't hard to make and there are many different patterns available. By doing this you can add special touches and be assured of the quality of your bag.
You can also make them fairly inexpensively. This is a great way to use old blue jeans, or clothing from the thrift shop. Just make sure that the fabric is sturdy so that it won't tear apart.
There are free patterns on the Internet. Some of them are:
Make Your Own Designer Grocery Bag
- Morsbags Downloadable Pattern
morsbags, the sociable guerilla bagging network
- Pie and Coffee How to make a canvas bag
Everything you need to know, including printing a design on your bag!
- Tutorial on a Two Hour Tote Bag
Great tutorial on how to make a bag in less than 2 hours.
- Wallet-Sized Fold-Up Re-Usable Shopping Bag
A Bag that folds to wallet size. No excuses not to bring this one along!
- U-handblog: How to sew a curved bag gusset tutorial (aka reusable groceries bag with comfy bag handl
This one is unique!
- How to Sew a Fabric Shopping Bag
How to sew a fabric shopping bag and reduce your use of plastic shopping bags.
But I Don't Sew...
If you knit or crochet there are patterns for bags you can make as well. Knitted, felted and crocheted bags are sturdy and very avant-garde!
Consider some of the following free patterns for reusable grocery bags:
Easiest Make Your Own Bag EVER:No Sew!
- Turkish Stitch String Bag
This one is knitted in an old world style.
- Large Crocheted Plastic Market Bag
Ultimate recycling project. Crochet a bag from..plastic bags!
- Angels Crochet - Apple Tote Pattern
- Suzies Stuff: JUNE - GO GREEN MARKET BAG
Huge, green bag. You can fill this one up!
- Free Organic Market Bag Knitting Pattern
But I Want to BUY a Reusable Bag!
O.k. Well buying a bags is simple. You just have to choose from about a million styles, colors, companies, and...
There are many, many places to find grocery bags and totes on the Internet. Here are a few to give you a place to start:
Always consider carefully both your purchases and the company that you purchase from. It may be important to you to support small, cottage industries or know that the company that you are buying from is eco-ethical in all their dealings. Perhaps you want to buy only Fairly Traded items. Ask questions and find out as much as you can about the company and its practices before buying.
Always have enough self respect to support companies that you are proud to support; companies that you don't mind identifying with