Why I’m Breaking up with Green Bags.
Green bags came into being around 2002 and were immediately hailed as the solution to all those plastic bags we had been using.
According to Clean Up Australia, Aussies use over 4 billion plastic bags every year!! Not just available in supermarkets, many businesses now offer some form of green bag to their customers.
I jumped onto the bandwagon when they first came out and thought they were great until I started wondering what they were actually made of!
While I like the idea of having a reusable alternative to using plastic bags, I am no longer a fan of the ‘green bag’ as an alternative. They are made from polypropylene, a byproduct of oil refining, usually imported from China. And… they are ugly!
Unfortunately these bags are not compostable or biodegradable and we end up with millions of them, most ending up in landfill. They can be recycled (apparently Coles has a recycling program) but many people are not aware or do not bother.
I also found that the stitching comes loose after a while, they tear easily, the plastic insert cracks and they become useless as as shopping bag.
“A CSIRO research scientist, Dr Mike O’Shea, says the green bag’s only environmental credential is that it is not the single-use high-density polyethylene plastic bag still given out in most shops and supermarkets.” source
So what do I use instead?
For food shopping, I like to use fabric bags. They are so much more durable, easy to wash and last forever. I like to source them from op shops as they are much cheaper and I like to reuse something already in circulation. I realise non-organic cotton production is not very environmentally friendly but I think the years of use of a cotton bag, combined with it’s ability to decompose make it a winner over green bags.
I wash them regularly in hot water with a dash of eucyalyptus oil to keep them clean and fresh.
For one off purchases, I carry a lightweight fold up bag in my handbag.
It’s a bit of a challenge now to see if I can avoid plastic bags and I like to say to shop assistants, no thanks, I have my own bag, I like to be a greenie! I think it gets people thinking in a subtle, non-judgy way.
Obviously if you already have ‘green’ bags, use them until they can be used no more and then recycle them properly.
What do you think? Do you love your green bags or do you use something else??