I have been using reusable shopping bags for a while now, once every few months I forget to bring them, which is okay unless I am doing a big shopping trip. I still use plastic bags for various needs that cloth can’t really substitute (think dripping package of raw chicken). It really sucks when you do forget though, because you feel so guilty, you don’t want to buy any more because you have a ton of them, its just consuming more and its senseless to drive home. I ran into this idea over at treehugger.
Reprinted: Trehugger Sammy Grover 8/2009
I went to the co-op the other day, and once again forgot my reusable bags. It’s one of my bad eco-habits – along with dragging my feet over putting up a clothes line. But as I filled my plastic bag in shame (I REALLY don’t need any more reusable bags at home!), I was reminded of a comment on a previous post, where someone (whose comment I can no longer find) informed us that their grocery store has a “bag pool” – where you can bring in your old bags, and exchange them for new ones – free of charge. If you have too many, you simply leave excess for those who forget. Given the resources that go into growing cotton, recycling plastics, or even manufacturing and transporting a bag – it makes total sense to use it to the maximum, rather than each of us having 15 that sit in our closets.
I believe the scheme in question is BagShare in Western Massachusetts – and in addition to reusing existing bags, BagShare volunteers get together to sew new bags from old t-shirts and other preloved items. The project claims that over 10,000 bags have been sewn or donated – and some participating stores now only offer BagShare bags and/or cardboard boxes if you forget your own bags.
It’s the perfect example of a product service system – and we like those! George Monbiot would no doubt still argue that plastic bags are a distraction, and volunteer hours might be better spent elsewhere – but to my mind, if you can build community through the reuse of valuable resources, then you are undoubtedly on to something.