Family Contributions to Environmental Improvements with Reusable Bags

plastic grocery bags

plastic grocery bags

The growing concern for environmental conditions doesn’t always translate into immediate action in a busy household. Recycling takes effort, after all, and elimination of wasteful behaviors takes time. The rising concern is worthy of note, as according to the EPA, only eight percent of plastic waste created in 2010 was recycled. While recycling can help to limit wasteful behaviors, it’s also true that eliminating the need for plastic products can improve the scenario. Families can work creatively to approach the issue of limiting the wasteful use of plastic products, especially with regard to plastic grocery bags.

Large store chains have already promoted the cause of reusing bags, many incorporating monetary rewards into the process. For years, recycling boxes at the front of stores have provided a place for easy return of used plastic shopping bags. However, in the last two years reusable grocery bags have become a promotional alternative. Stores gain advertising traction by providing branded, reusable grocery bags for sale, and customers are able to use these bags in their shopping trips to save the waste that is associated with plastic bags.

There is an advantage in using the fabric grocery bags in terms of shape. The rectangular shape is easy to place in the vehicle and packs quite well. The formless plastic bag often leads to broken jars or mashed produce, but the defined shape of a reusable grocery sack makes it easy to pack properly. The material is sturdy, easy to carry with strong handles. Insulated versions are excellent for transporting cold or frozen products, especially during warm weather. The cost of a reusable bag is usually less than a dollar, and over time, the bags replace hundreds of plastic bags.

Stores offering incentives for reusable bags being used make it possible for customers to save. Some companies provide a monetary reward for periodic use of fabric bags. In the case of CVS, a dollar reward is given when a green bag tag is scanned for two visits. This must be in conjunction with a reusable bag being used or hand carrying of products replacing the use of plastic grocery bags. Other companies provide reward points for each reusable bag brought for bagging groceries. These points accrue for monetary or fuel discounts.

One of the biggest challenges for families in implementing this simple recycling strategy is time. Busy households sometimes move so quickly that they don’t remember to bring along the fabric bags. Assigning reminder responsibilities and using positive reinforcement can help. If a child is the recycling monitor for the household, he can take the responsibility of helping everyone else remember. In the process, he takes ownership and the family becomes more proficient at eliminating plastic waste.

Family cooperation can contribute to environmental improvements. Plastic waste can be reduced and plastic recycling can be improved. Working together, children and parents can make a difference.

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