How many plastic grocery bags do you have in your house right now? Every time you buy anything, a plastic bag is most likely used. There are lots of . They litter our streets, waste natural resources, and can expose us to toxins.
In 2007, the Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) and Massachusetts Food Association (MFA) recognized this problem. Together they set a goal of a one-third reduction in the number of paper and plastic bags used by 2013. Over 500 grocery stores are members of the MFA, including Market Basket. This effort was voluntary in nature. The idea was to encourage people to bring reusable bags.
From a flyer created by the two groups, the MFA members committed to:
- Promoting the use of reusable bags
- Providing in store plastic bag recycling bins for customers
- Offering reusable shopping bags for sale made with recycled content
- Using disposable bags with more recycled content
According to Keith Peters, a manager at , they have seen a 40-50% increase in the number of shoppers bringing reusable bags. Plastic and paper bag use has decreased approximately 20%. Peters stated that signs were used to encourage shoppers to bring reusable bags. “Choose to Reuse” was the slogan, although the signs are not being used now.
Some stores, such as Stop and Shop and Hannaford, gave a 5 cent discount for each reusable bag. Stop and Shop and Whole Foods still give 5 cents.
In November 2011, the MFA and MassDEP announced that the goal of a 33 % reduction in the use of disposable bags was reached 2 years ahead of schedule. The groups will continue to work together to encourage this trend.
Many cities around the country have implemented bag bans or charge for plastic or paper bags. Washington D.C. instituted a 5 cent tax on plastic and paper bags in January 2010. In one year, $2 million was collected to clean up the Anacostia River. A study in 2008 found that plastic bags made up 21% of the trash in the river and 40% in its tributaries. The law was estimated to generate closer to $4 million in the first year. Obviously, people are not using disposable bags. The ban is estimated to have created a 50% decrease and it is viewed as one of the most successful programs in the country.
For the bags that you still accumulate, stores have plastic bag recycling stations. Every grocery store in and near Westford has one. At Market Basket, look for a white barrel container near the far exit. . The list includes:
- Grocery bags
- Newspaper bags
- Dry cleaning bags
- Retail shopping bags (with strings and rigid plastic handles removed)
- Bread, cereal and produce bags
- Plastic wrap from paper products and bulk items (think wrapping around toilet paper and paper towels)
- All clean, clear bags labeled with a #2 or #4 recycling symbol
All plastic must be CLEAN AND DRY!
These bags should not be put in your curbside container.
It takes a while to adopt new habits. It took me almost a year to consistently remember my reusable bags. I used quite a few helpful hints to do it. Just keep at it.