I'll admit that I haven't always been the most 'green' person around. Starting about a decade ago, back in college, I started to become more aware of the true impact of our 'carbon footprints'. Now, after starting a family, I am even more aware of what I need to do to help leave our Earth healthy & safe for my children to live in.
I am an avid recycler. This isn't easy for us & my husband frequently goes on 'strike' when it comes to packing everything up in our Jeep to take to the Recycling Center because its such a hassle to live somewhere without curbside pickup. However, he easily relents once I remind him of the sweet little one that we are protecting our Earth for! There are other aspects of being 'green' that I am still working on. Namely paper towels & household cleaners - I just try to keep reminding myself that convenience isn't always the best option in the long run.
A big part of going 'green' is incorporating Reusable Shopping Bags into your shopping trips. We all know that the choice between paper or plastic is a no-win situation with the pollution from plastics and the trees that are lost to make the paper. The winning solution is reusable shopping bags! Reusable shopping bags are estimated to replace approximately 1,000 disposable plastic bags in their lifetime! Many of these bags are made from recycled materials too.
These days it's hard to go into a store where they don't have them for sale. I have seen them in the following stores: Kroger, Ukrops, Foodlion, Walmart, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, Target, Joann Fabrics, Dicks Sporting Goods (My Favorite Virginia Tech reusable bags! GO HOKIES! - sorry - its habit!) and Old Navy. I am sure there are others - these are just the places that i've personally noticed lately as this post has been going through my mind.
Most of these bags can be purchased for the low price of $0.99. The thermal insulated bags at Kroger & Ukrops run around $4-5 each. If you picked up one bag per shopping trip for 5-6 weeks, for $1 each, in a little over a month you could have enough bags to completely eliminate your need for extra paper or plastic bags on your shopping trips! Now it's important to remember to take them with you, which I initially had a hard time doing. I keep them in the same place so I remember to grab them when I am running out to a store. Some people may find it easier to place them back in their vehicle after unpacking their purchases.
Here is the best part of going 'green' with reusable shopping bags. Many stores will give you money to use them! By 'Going Green you can Save Green'! Kroger & Ukrops stores will give you a 5 cent credit, per bag, that you use. Trader Joe's will give you one entry per bag into their store raffle, which is for a gift card for the store! Make sure you read the fine print at some stores & in their weekly ads for some stores will run specials where they'll give away a free reusable bag with a minimum purchase. It's important to note that you do not have to use store specific bags with each store nor do they have to be purchased from the store to use. You can use your own tote bags that you already have.
You may think that a 5 cent credit per bag isn't worth the hassle. Picture this - say you use 8 bags per weekly shopping trip. That is 40 cents a week which is $21 a year! Just by bringing your own bags! Not to mention the reduction of your carbon footprint with an estimated 8,000 less disposable plastic bags a year by using your own reusable 8 bags!
A few other uses for reusable bags are lunches & gifts. Using reusable bags for Birthday & Holiday gifts saves so much wrapping paper. Americans throw away 25% more trash between Thanksgiving & New Years each year. It saves you money on wrapping materials and by giving a gift in a reusable bag could help motivate someone you know to use that bag in their own 'green' efforts!