Five Strategies for Putting an End to the Use of Plastic Bags

Published On March 22, 2011

Plastic bags have been part of our lives since 1957 and have served many uses – packing and carrying items, as garbage bags and for food storage – to name just a few. While they have in many ways made our lives easier, plastic bags have an incredible and alarming environmental impact. Reusable green bags circumvent the problems that arise in the production and disposal of plastic and are now widely available. With reusable varieties of promotional bags now so common, you rarely have to even pay to acquire some!

Scientific evidence clearly shows that plastic is environmentally harmful. Fortunately, there is a reasonable amount of awareness and information readily available that illuminates the dangers and harm of plastic bags. For example:

  • Approximately one thousand years pass before a plastic bag starts to decompose
  • As plastic bags do start to break down, small particles and fragments contaminate soil and water
  • When plastic bags are discarded and end up in the food chain, they are quite often eaten by animals
  • Similarly, discarded plastic bags that find their way to waterways are frequently mistaken for food and ingested by marine animals with fatal results.

However, facts such as these and all the awareness in the world are futile unless people are motivated to take action. It is widely accepted that humans will only change their behaviour when a simple, straightforward, non-arduous and cost effective alternative is available which does not cause inconvenience. Such an alternative to plastic bags exists and it is reusable ‘green bags’.

So, what can we all do to bring an end to the inordinate and excessive use of plastic bags?

  1. Be committed
  2. Some people find it useful to nominate or use a particular day as a marker for instituting a new behaviour. Clean Up Australia Day, Earth Day or New Year’s Day would be excellent choices for a day to cease using plastic bags and commit to using reusable green bags.

  3. Stock up on green bags
  4. A variety of sizes and styles are available and bags made from a variety of eco-friendly materials can be found. Reusable bags can be obtained that can be folded, collapsed, left to stand up, be carried in a hand bag, left in the car, worn across the body…the list goes on. Very often, green bags will find their way to you. Today, it is incredibly popular for promotional bags to be green bags, so much so that you will very rarely even have to purchase these carriers.

  5. Strategically place your green bags
  6. Keep some bags in your car, your hand bag and at your workplace. Upon your return from shopping trips, make sure you put the green bags back in their designated place so that they are ready for your next trip to the shops! Some people also put ‘green bags’ at the top of every shopping list in order to remember that they need to take them along.

  7. Say ‘No’ to plastic
  8. When offered a plastic bag when making a purchase, politely say no. If you really do need a bag, ask about the environmentally friendly alternatives available in-store and perhaps even ask about the incentives the store may have for limiting their customers’ use of plastic bags.

  9. Spread the word
  10. Some people may like to campaign or take definite action to stop the use of plastic bags. While this is not in all of our natures, it is simple enough to give a green bag as a gift or share your reusable bags with others. Leading by example is always a great way of motivating and raising awareness in others.

Very few people can or will refute the environmentally harmful impacts of plastic bags. Green bags offer an excellent solution in that they are designed for reuse and are strong, hard wearing and available in a range of shapes and sizes.