Bye Bye Plastic Bags


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Here in New Jersey tomorrow (May 4th) “everything” will change when it comes to grocery shopping. Well maybe not EVERYTHING, but there WILL be big change. One that we’ve been hearing about for a long time, but is FINALLY coming to pass. When you go to check out (be it with a cashier or using the self-check aisle), you plastic bags will no longer be an option.

Yes, you will have to bring your own reusable bags… Or you could just put your purchases back in the cart that you’ve been using and load them up one by one into the back of your car. However that seems pretty silly (and very time consuming.) …Or you could bring a box to carry your items in. Perhaps even finding an empty one while you shop. (I understand this is common at Costco, BJs and Sam’s Club…none of which I belong to.)

In any case, it’s the end of plastic bags as we know it here in the state. That’s NOT a bad thing. It’s a good thing. It may be an inconvenience, but how inconvenient? Yes, I use these bags in my garbage cans throughout the house, which I then consolidate into a large bag to go out to be picked up. When I run out (and I do have a bunch on hand because I don’t throw out viable plastic bags when I get them), I run out and I will figure out another solution. It may be a (minor) pain, but as they say “it is what it is.”

When you consider the impact that these plastic bags have on our environment, it’s worth the inconvenience. These bags, are called “single-use.” I use them again for garbage, but do not use over and over again when I go shopping…I suppose they COULD, but let’s face, they don’t hold up very well. Furthermore, if I go and get 10 bags of groceries and use these plastic bags, by the time I get home and bring them all into my house, I guarantee at least three or more have already developed tears which make them unsuitable for use as a trash can liner. Furthermore (and this information comes from the Center for Biological Diversity) let’s consider this:

  • Americans use 100 billion plastic bags a year, which require 12 million barrels of oil to manufacture. (That’s A LOT of oil!)
  • In 2015 about 730,000 tons of plastic bags, sacks and wraps were generated (including PS, PP, HDPE, PVC & LDPE) in the United States, but more than 87% of those items are never recycled winding up in landfills and the ocean. (Do you like to swim with plastic bags?)
  • About 34% of dead leatherback sea turtle have ingested plastics. (Don’t think that should be part of their regular diet.)
  • It takes 1,000 years for a plastic bag to degrade in a landfill. Unfortunately, the bags don’t break down completely but instead photo-degrade, becoming microplastics that absorb toxins and continue to pollute the environment. (That’s A LOT of years.)
  • In 2014 California became the first state to ban plastic bags. As of March 2018, 311 local bag ordinances have been adopted in 24 states. (So we’re actually late comers to the party.)

In view of the above, it makes sense to say good bye to plastic bags. Maybe we can save some turtles (and other animals that might ingest plastic bags), take better care of our planet (1,000 years of plastic bags?) and even save some oil (12 million barrels of oil could be put to better use than making plastic bags.) I’m trying to make sure that I always keep reusable bags in my car. (They don’t take up a lot of room.) If I forget, I guess I’ll either have to buy a reusable bag (which is not expensive and can’t I always use another bag?). I’ll get to used to it; I think we all will.

Thanks New Jersey for eliminating the bags. Now if we could use come up with a better way to package cans/bottles instead of those plastic drink rings (which I am told are called in the industry as hi-cones or yokes, and are circular plastic rings that hold together multi-packs of canned drinks.) I understand they are dangerous to wildlife, but they are also a MAJOR pain in the… At least to me! Trying to pull bottles/cans out is frustrating to say the least. Or maybe I’m just turning into a weak old lady. However, that debate is for another day.

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Beth Shorten
Beth Shorten
Beth Shorten is a life-long resident of Verona from a long line of life-long Verona residents. She chronicles life here on her personal site, Bfth’s Boring Blog. 


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