a nice design

Sabrina checking out the new addition to our reusable shopping bag collection

For the past couple of days, my good friend, saddle pal, and western guide, Wilbur “Sparky” Rawlins, and I, have been working on a couple of pieces about our recent travels. Those should appear here at Burning Silo sometime soon. In the meantime, here’s an item that seems worthy of discussion — reusable shopping bags.

Sure, the topic may not seem newsworthy, but reusable shopping bags deserve more attention than they get. When you look around you at the check-out counter, how often do you see someone using one these days? Most likely, the answer is, “Not nearly enough.” No sir. Instead, the majority of shoppers just keep bringing home more and more of those nasty plastic bags, using up more petrochemicals, and in many areas where there is no reclamation program for plastic bags, creating more trash for the local landfills. So, today, I’d like to take a moment to discuss resuable shopping bags.

Now, the reason that I happen to have them on my mind just now is that, last weekend, while shopping in our favourite whole food store, Foodsmith’s the Good Food Store, in the village of Perth, we noticed that they had a supply of very nicely designed reusable shopping bags available for purchase for $1.49 each at the check-out counter. I had already been aware of these bags as I’d heard about the BBB (Bins, Bags and Baskets) Project started by a group of Perth-area residents working with the support of ecoPerth.

We’ve had other reusable shopping bags over the years, but these are really pretty special, so we added a couple to our collection. Apparently, from what I read about the bags earlier this year, they were designed after consultation with both shoppers and check-out staff at grocery stores. That’s a plus as, in the past, I’ve found that some reusable bags aren’t all that compatible with the bag packing racks in stores. These bags stand rigidly like standard brown paper shopping bags, so they’re a cinch to pack. They have a small zippered pocket inside which can be used to store small items that might otherwise be misplaced (see below). The bags are imprinted with the names of supporters of the reusable bag program in Perth. The supplier of the bags appears on the bottom as www.bringyourbag.com. At $1.49 each, they’re a helluva a bargain. I’m certain that we’ll get great use out of ours as it looks sturdy enough to last a few years.

For those who might have a hard time remembering to bring your reusable bag with you on every shopping trip, here are just a few sobering statistics quoted from the Plastic Bags page of the ecoPerth website:

Film plastic – shopping bags, bread and produce bags – is the largest type of plastic in the household waste stream by volume and weight. The average household uses 1000 plastic bags each year. In the Perth area alone – the municipalities of Perth, Lanark Highlands, Tay Valley and Drummond – the 22,218 people living in 12,569 households use more than 12 million plastic bags each year, sending 314,250 kg of plastic waste to our landfill sites.

Plastic bags cost consumers approximately 5 cents each at the store and 2 cents each in additional taxes for recycling and landfill, for a total of $70 a year per household or $880,000 per year in the Perth area.

Anyone have anything to add to this discussion? Is your community doing anything special to encourage the use of reusable shopping bags? Do you have a favourite shopping or errand bag? Did you make it yourself? What’s it like?

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