After every windy day I have to clean my backyard of all the trash that has blown into it. Our property backs up to an open field and the wind usually blows from this direction. I have found numerous candy wrappers, a baby hat, one (very sad) baby bootie, styrofoam packing peanuts, ribbon, but most often I find plastic bags. Sometimes they get caught in the branches of our trees, like sad little ghost birds. My trash-cleaning days and San Francisco’s recent ban on plastic shopping bags have made me more conscientious about using my canvas shopping bags at the grocery store.
Reusable canvas totes are sturdier than a regular plastic grocery sack and by using them, you are helping to keep plastic bags out of our landfills and my backyard. Some stores even give discounts for bringing in your own bags (our local market gives me $0.03 every time I use one). They can be found for under $10 online and you might even be able to get a better deal at a yard sale or thrift shop.
Ok, you say, now what do I do with the 257 plastic bags that I have stored in my garage? Some larger shopping centers have plastic bag recycling bins. You can drop off your clean plastic bags there to be recycled. Or you could take them to a local thrift store to be used as shopping bags there. Or you could use them to collect your dog’s poop every few days. (I really don’t like throwing the dog poop straight into the trash can. However, since I don’t get plastic bags at the grocery store any more, I will soon have to figure out another plan.)
My other quandary in all of this is what to do about Ziploc bags. I love Ziploc bags. I mean, I really love them. They are great for leftovers, snack baggies, travel, wet clothes, freezing foods, storing craft items… I could go on. But I don’t like the idea of putting so many in the landfills. I do wash them out (unless they have been storing raw meat) and try to get 3 or more uses out of them – especially the gallon and quart sizes. I haven’t tried one of these yet, but this might make it easier to wash them in the dishwasher. I guess for now I will just have to content myself with trying not to use plastic grocery sacks and with reusing the Ziploc bags as much as possible.