When I immigrated to the United States from Germany, few customs baffled me more than the excessive use of plastic bags. While most stores sell reusable tote bags at a cheap price, I am the only customer who brings her own bags. Why am I the exception and not the rule? And is it really necessary to place the smallest purchase in a plastic bag?
At one recent trip to the grocery store I was astonished that the bagger not only wrapped cold items into plastic bags one item at a time. No, she then wrapped the article in another plastic bag! All that despite the fact that I had given her four big tote bags. Since then I always check who is bagging before placing my purchases on the conveyor belt.
In Germany, on the other hand, shoppers have to bring their own bags to stores or pay for plastic bags. How many billions of bags would be kept out of landfills and our oceans if we had a similar rule here? My quick research online revealed that – depending on the source – between 100 and 380 billion plastic bags are consumed in the United States each year!
These bags are used for less than half an hour and then discarded. Unfortunately, many of them end up in our oceans, where they kill many birds and marine animals.
It shouldn’t be too difficult to cut down on this enormous waste by placing some tote bags in your car. Say “No” to plastic bags!
Image by Erkaha (commons.wikimedia.org)