Dan's Outside

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Shopping Bags

Yes, shopping bags.

More than 20 years ago we shopped at a grocery store that offered reusable canvas grocery bags for sale. I balked at the price – while paper bags were free the canvas bags cost a few dollars – but eventually picked up a half dozen or so. On balance it seemed like a reasonable and environmentally aware thing to do.

A few years ago I considered how this has played out since that time. On a typical weekly grocery shopping trip we probably pick up about a half dozen bags of food – though a bit less now that our youngest kid has gone off to college. Doing a bit of math (6 bags per week x 52 weeks per year x 20 years) it seems that:

  • We have avoided the use of well over 6000 paper bags!
  • Adding up the 5 cents per bag credit for bringing our own bags to the store we have earned back perhaps as much as 100 times the original cost of the bags!
  • We now donate our bag credits, helping some charities in a small way. It adds up to $5/month or more – a small amount, that could be significant if multiplied many times over.

Looked at this way:

  • A small change has larger effects over time than you might imagine.
  • Not only was it “the right thing” to do, but in the end it was cost free.
  • The bags are useful for lots of other things. For example, I use them to pack food for car camping trips.

Next time you are at the grocery store, pick up a few canvas grocery bags.


November 6, 2007 - Posted by | Commentary, Environment

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