Monday, April 18, 2011

Paper or Plastic?

Today I had a personal achievement. Nothing grand and glorious by most standards, but pretty monumental for me.

I went to 3 stores for my weekly 'run-around-"how-could-this-store-not-have-this?! shoppapalooza', and did not use a single plastic bag. Not one. At all.

I told you it wasn't anything super-amazing. So don't get all, "Seriously? I'm reading this for that? What a joke." Because you were warned, after all.

I don't know about you, but we've been trying to do the whole "Go Green" thing here. But it's been proving a lot harder than I thought. I mean, I like the idea and all. I do. Saving the Earth for my daughters' daughters' daughters' sons is a valiant thing, indeed. But when we get right down it, I like paper plates. I like plastic bags. I like soap that smells like a garden of flowers. Giving them up has not been easy, so we've been taking baby steps.

Teeny-tiny-tiptoe steps that are adding up to a whole lot of bigger somethings.

For example, take my success of the day: No Plastic Bags Used.
Several years ago I went around the house collecting all of my reusable canvas bags. Being a teacher, I have what I consider to be a disproportionate amount of these bags. From every class, every conference, every new school year. A brand spankin' new bag. I've gotten them for placing orders and for sometimes just showing up. "Oh look! You've come. Here, have a bag." Apparently the predominate belief is that educators are either a form of load bearing mammal, ("Lets load 'em up with bags and see how big of a load they can carry");  or a breed of hoarders ("Look at all that crap she's got with her! Better give her a bag to tote it with before she drops it all and makes a mighty mess.")

But I am not one to turn down a free bag. No, indeed not.

So there I was with all these bags. I was completely set for my biggest of shopping runs. Except for one thing.

The one fly in the ointment.

Scores of reusable bags are not very useful when you can't remember to bring them into the store. Unless standing at the checkout lane smacking yourself in the forehead with the heel of your hand because you forgot to bring them in counts as 'green', that is. (Does it? Because if it does, than I'm much further along on this initiative than I previously thought).

After a year of looking at my supply of Save The Earth bags tucked neatly in the back of the van as I loaded up all my Kill The Earth plastic bags, I decided to make a clever change that has made all the difference. I have moved all the canvas bags up to the front of the van, stashing them in the narrow space between the passenger seat and the front console. Rolled up and secured with a rubber band, they stack perfectly and are ready for me to use them.

When I leave to go to a store, I grab a few bags, and carry them in. When I unpack them at home, I immediately re-roll them, secure each with the rubber band that was sporting around my wrist, and get them back out to the car. Ready to go for next time.

This all sounds silly, I know. But it's working.

My name is Amanda and I'm 7 days clean of Plastic Bags. 7 days of shopping and not carrying out plastic. 7 days when I am not part of that problem. And that feels pretty good, actually.

On the heels of this success, we'll continue to make changes around here: making our own laundry and dishwasher soaps, using energy saving light bulbs, and watching water usage. Maybe nothing major, but changes in the right directions nonetheless.

 I don't know if we'll ever be completely "Green", (though I'd sure like to be), but maybe we can achieve a shade of it. There's nothing wrong with "Spring Green". Or "Sage".


  1. Plastic bags aren't really a problem. They take up an extremely small amount of space. We use plastic bags and recycle them as trash can liners. The rest we sometimes throw away, but we recently have a collection that we are planning to give to a charitable thrift store. "Going Green" is a dirty word in our house. I'm all for recycling and being good stewards of the planet that God gave us to use but the "Go Green" movement has so many things tied to it that are falsified or just right-out lies all in the name of a new world order and global Marxism that I'm turned off by anything that tries to propagandize my family into believing a bunch of nonsense. Entertaining blog though, thanks!

  2. We keep any plastic bags we accumulate and reuse them. I love them as trash liners, so I suppose we'll keep needing to replenish our supply. My biggest concern here is the use of chemicals. That's my biggest thing; keeping our house chemical free. I feel like everything we need is here. Naturally derived. So we're working towards that goal.
    Other than that, we're all about recycling what we have. Re-purposing what we can. Or passing it on to others who can use it.