Home > Plastic Bags: What Am I Missing?

Plastic Bags: What Am I Missing?

June 20th, 2008 at 12:22 am

Can anyone point out a flaw in my logic? I keep thinking I must be missing something.

I know buying & using reusable bags instead of getting plastic bags from the grocery store is all the rage right now, and I completely understand why. I totally get the whole "reduce, reuse, recycle" philosophy. I've been washing out and reusing my plastic baggies all of my life. I use the plastic bags the newspaper comes in as doggie pooper scooper bags. When I go to the farmer's market (where I'm just getting one or two items per stall) I bring a tote and put my produce in there directly. On the rare occasions I hit the outlet stores, I'll get a bag from the first store and tell other stores to skip the bag and just put my purchases directly in the first bag.

But for my household, I just haven't been able to figure out how giving up plastic grocery bags makes sense. We are a 2-person (and 1-dog) household, and the trash gets emptied every day. The trash has to be placed in tied-off plastic bags. So I use the bags from the grocery store, and I double bag because there are often little holes in them. On most days, we don't even fill up a grocery store sized bag of trash. I need all of my grocery bags for my household trash! The only way I could give up plastic grocery bags would be if I went out and bought replacement plastic bags, and I can't see the logic in buying something to replace the exact same thing that I get for free. And given that most store bought trash bags are for large size trash cans, they might end up using even more plastic and that would be most environmentally unfriendly.

If we were a big family and needed big trash bags and had to buy them, it would be an entirely different story. But we're a small family with small daily trash accumulation.

I think my logic is correct, and I think in our case in makes sense to keep getting plastic grocery bags, but I do feel a tad sheepish when I see all of these wonderful people walking out of the store with their "green" bags while I tote my old-fashioned plastic.

Am I missing something?

And may I just say a big thank you in advance to anyone who answers ... not only for your insights, but for understanding why stuff like this matters to someone like me (or should I say people like us).

9 Responses to “Plastic Bags: What Am I Missing?”

  1. luxlivingfrugalis Says:

    I have no insights other than to say your logic seems sound to me. I also use those plastic bags for our trash. Same reasoning.

  2. disneysteve Says:

    I think your logic makes sense. The only possible flaw might be if the plastic used to make the supermarket bags is different from an environmental standpoint than that used to make trash bags, though I don't think it is.

    We also reuse our grocery bags for one thing or another, though ultimately they are still ending up in a landfill. A few times recently, I took plastic bags back to the store and used them again. I have to try and remember to keep a bunch of them in my trunk for that purpose.

  3. creditcardfree Says:

    I just purchased 3 canvas bags for groceries. We accumulate much more than we use. I have four people, two cats and two mice in our house! I even use the grocery bags for used kitty litter and mice bedding.

    I think how your using your bags is fine. Could you bring home paper and take your daily trash out in that? It would be better for the landfill. Maybe find other ways to avoid as much plastic in your purchases. I bought a 20 pack of toilet paper once. Inside the large plastic covering was 5 wrapped packages of 4 rolls. Plastic overkill there!

  4. JanH Says:

    I, too, use the bags from the super stores for kitty litter removal. I can't use the grocery ones because they are so flimsy they tear even with groceries. I honestly wonder why they use them because they have to double bag some of my stuff for that reason. I have been thinking of taking a plastic tote bag with me for the few items I buy at the main grocery store. I'd probably get some interesting looks from people!

  5. sillyoleme Says:

    I think this makes sense. I was actually thinking the exact same thing the other day, if BF & I were to buy our own "totes" instead of using the plastic bags at the grocery, we would only have to buy trash bags for the bathrooms & kitchen (we don't use big ones either).

    So if it makes no difference landfill-wise, why would I let Walmart save expenses by not having to provide as many plastic bags at the checkout... and then turn around and give them more money when I buy bags?

  6. baselle Says:

    I use the plastic bags for bathroom wastebasket liners too. I tended to collect more than I used, but knowing I have a use for whatever bags I collect means I don't feel too guilty if I don't have my cloth bag on me. I'm also making plans to buy groceries out of Seattle every couple of months or so the City of Seattle goes through with the .20 bag fee.

    And so far I haven't had to buy a cloth bag. Got them for free. Now one of the few perks hitting a supermarket grand opening if you can. Big Grin

  7. monkeymama Says:

    Your logic makes sense if you have to put it out in plastic bags.

    We don't buy plastic bags and we put plastic bags in most of our trash cans. But we just keep them and reuse them. we can toss the trash freely into the trash bin, which is what we do.

    Of course, I have a LARGE pile of extra bags (large) from when we had a diaper service so I go through and empty the house trash in one of those, and also use those for the cat litter these days (very sturdy). Not sure what I will do when we run out. I hadn't much thought about that - though I imagine I would probably reuse one large back much for most of the trash. Cat litter, will always need plastic bags. (These bags will literally last years - we aren't very trashy).

    But, I just had to say we use our totes and get 5 cents per bag every time we use them in the store. Dh ran to the store for a 15 cent purchase and told me he was tempted to hand them 5 bags and see if he got money back. LOL.

    I don't remember the last time we had to buy a plastic bag - they are just everywhere I guess. Mostly what we notice.

  8. princessperky Says:

    you could reduce your plastic bag by asking others for theirs (my MIL has about a million..just in case)...but other than that I totally understand your logic.

    We still have a couple and they are useful for small loads of trash that must go out each day, or for lining the mini cans in the bathrooms...but we also are a family of in spite of composting and recycling, and in general less trash in, we still need to buy a giant bag to fill up.

    Of course if you start to get store credit back then you prolly should research alternate sources of plastic.

  9. Koppur Says:

    We use the grocery store bags rarely, so we stopped getting them. But if you are using them for purpose I see no issue. The only things I can think of is if you got regular trash bags, took the trash out only hen they are full, maybe you would end up using less plastic. But honestly I don't knw if it would be a significant difference or not.

    For those who "collect" those grocery store bags and don't reuse them often, check out some of the local grocery stores - some have bins where you can place the grocery bags for recycling.

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