Using a reusable shopping bag is not exactly a new concept; people have been taking advantage of cloth or canvas bags for decades. Prior to the recent surge of renewed interest in these bags, we of course had the two choices coined in the ever recognizable question “paper or plastic”. So what suddenly became wrong with paper and plastic that has everyone scrambling to spend the approximate $.99 on each reusable bag? A lot.
A few months ago I made a fairly large purchase for a client in a local hardware store called Tags. The store was offering one free reusable bag for every $50 spent in the store. By the time all was said and done I had enough Tags imprinted bags to accommodate for the entire purchase and when I got them home I noticed a tag hanging from the strap indicating these bags were created by a company called 1 Bag At A Time.
I flipped the tag over to read the information the company wanted to share regarding paper and plastic bag usage and was blown away by the statistics provided; and I write about this stuff all the time!
Based on the tag, 1 Bag At A Time indicates:
“Making a paper bag emits 70% more global warming gas than making a plastic bag.
380 billion plastic bags or wraps are thrown away in America each year.
14 plastic bags contain enough petroleum to drive a car a mile.”
There were a couple more statistics but my brain already began spinning figures. If we divide the 380 billion bags by the 14 bags, Americans alone could be driving approximately 27,142,857,143 more miles without touching another single drop of petroleum. That’s one heck of a road trip huh?
I held off on completing this article for a few months because I truly wanted to see how these bags held up under the wear and tear of not only weekly grocery shopping but toting anything I intended to shop for or travel with. The answer? Phenomenal.
We are tough on our stuff, especially when it comes to something like a bag so it would need to hold up to be worth it (read: so this bag doesn’t just end up as disposable in a landfill somewhere instead). So here are my estimated stats:
“I shop for groceries weekly and formerly acquired an average of 15 plastic bags per trip.
I have used these reusable bags each week for 12 weeks.”
Have you done the math yet? No? Well let me help you out -- that is approximately 180 bags saved so far and roughly translates into being able to drive 13 miles, which pretty much completely negates my trips to and from the grocery store (and then some!).
Other good things about these bags are that the straps are long enough that I can sling them over my shoulder, the capacity is large enough that I can hold much more in far fewer bags, they have a removable bottom stiffener (these are made from plastic) to provide extra bottom support and they can be machine washed on cold so even if my stuff leaks I can salvage the bag.
These bags are available for purchase in hundreds of stores throughout 43 of the 50 states and Washington DC (not available in Alaska, Mississippi, Nevada, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota or Wyoming but they are looking for suggestions of where to provide them in these areas so if you are local please check out the website contact information and give them a suggestion or two!). There are 65 locations in California alone.
Or order bags directly from their website! The company offers a variety of bags for purchase online -- jute, standard, wine bottle bags, small size, “Clean Air” design, a sampler pack and cooler bags (insulated) not to mention bottom stiffener replacements. They provide for the average consumer looking for a few good bags as well as to the wholesale market like companies who with to order in bulk with a logo.
At just under $.99 per bag the cost could not be better and considering the overall benefit to the environment I feel the definite need to award the 1 Bag At A Time reusable shopping bag a Four and A Half Leaf Rating!