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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Use Less Oil: Bring Your Own Bag

Some morning numbers to consider before you head to JubiShine for your weekly provisions:
  1. Oil spilled so far by the BP Deepwater Horizon oil wreck: over two million barrels.
  2. Conservative estimate of oil that would gush out of that well in one year: 13 million barrels.
  3. Oil necessary to produce the 380 billion plastic shopping bags Americans use each year: 39 million barrels.
Consider: if we all took our cloth bags and backpacks to the grocery store and eliminated single-use plastic bags, we would wipe out demand for three Gulf oil wells. Or if you just told the kid bagging your groceries that it's o.k. to put your bread and your soap in the same bag, the resulting one-third reduction in plastic bags could completely offset one Deepwater Horizon gusher. Plus, cloth bags hold a lot more stuff!

Of course, no technology comes without a cost. Reusable cloth bags been shown to carry bacteria, yeast, and mold. (I dread what might lurk at the bottom of my 15-year-old backpack). That particular study was funded by the Canadian Plastics Industry Association, but it still can't hurt to toss your cloth shopping bags in the wash every now and then.

My neighbor Bonnie Funk makes some nice cloth shopping bags. Look her up, give her a call, see if she can stitch one up for you.

Or you could get creative and order this humdinger from Japan....


  1. Those are incredible numbers, really, thinking about the impact of bags, I'd suggest using laundry baskets, they work great, and are easy to clean too. Also, we just got a famed IKEA blue bag, it's huge, but it's also incredible how much you can stuff in it. The folks at Sunshine never know what to expect when I come around...

  2. IKEA bag -- good choice! But remember: you still have to be able to lift it when it's full. :-)

  3. IKEA bag, great for boxes, not so good for milk, but it's a brillant design, and better material, I believe they are made with recycled plastics. I do tend to overfill it, but I take pride in a perfectly packed bag...

  4. I vote for the reusable sam's club bags. Very sturdy, reusable, and cost enough that you don't want to re-buy them every time you go shopping


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