Reuse

The Most Sustainable Bag Is Likely the One You Already Own: 5 Things YOU Can Do to Reduce the Need for Single-Use Plastic Bags

By Sarah Pamplona Santos

July 19, 2023

How often do you get to the checkout counter only to realize you’ve left your reusable bags at home or in the car? It’s happened to all of us, including me.

Don’t be that person stashing plastic bags until your drawer begins to overflow. In addition to going bagless for quick shopping trips, here are 5 tips for remembering to bring your own bag, so YOU can reduce the need for single-use-plastic bags:

  1. Make it visible. Write “bring bags” at the top of your grocery list and leave bags in a basket near your front door or hanging on the doorknob, so you don’t forget them as you are leaving the house.
  2. Make it available. Always keep a few bags in your car for spontaneous shopping trips.
  3. Make it essential. Place an important item in the bag, like your phone, keys or wallet, so you won’t forget it.

4. Make it personal. Purchase reusable bags you actually like, so you’ll be more inclined to carry them with you.

Why is this so important? Every year, 100 billion single-use plastic bags are used annually in the U.S., and its estimated fewer than 10% of them are recycled.

While the convenience of the single-use plastic retail bag can’t be disputed, the negative impact — considering its short use (12 minutes, on average) and long estimated lifespan — has created an untenable situation that is contributing to a mounting global waste crisis. Plastics can now be found in the deepest depth of the ocean, the top of Mount Everest, and on both polar ice caps.

Reducing the number of single-use plastic bags retailers use across their stores can make a tremendous difference. Even a 1% bag reduction would have a substantial impact on our global waste footprint – equivalent to 1 billion fewer bags used and discarded across the U.S.

If you’re already regularly using reusable bags, you are not alone! Learn more about our pilots in Denver and Tucson where 150+ retailers are working together to help all of us reinforce the habit of bringing our bags. Additionally, check out our new playbook full of solutions retailers can implement today to get teams and customers on board with reducing single-use plastic bags and encourage shoppers to reuse their own bags.

While there’s a lot retailers can do; remember, we’re all in this together and YOU can make a difference by reducing the need for single-use plastic bags.

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