I've really felt God push me to consider more effects of our daily living on the environment. For those of you who are skeptical - hear me out.
I used to think a lot of the environmental causes were a ridiculous amount of hype and people who were a little wacky trying to show they really cared about something. However, in the last year, I really feel like there are truths in a lot of it. Through prayer and contemplation, I feel like just as we are to be good stewards of God's gifts in our lives such as our abilities and talents, we are also supposed to be good stewards of the gifts he has given us such as the environment we live in. God asks us to be good stewards of all the gifts He gives us, not just some of them.
So my husband and I are trying to figure out small ways we can do this. We don't have a lot of extra money right now and we are in a new place so it can be challenging, but one of my favorite newest things that seems to be catching on are reusable grocery bags. Most of the local grocery stores have begun carrying these reusable grocery bags. I didn't know how they would work, but at $.99, I figured we could buy a few, try them out, and if we liked them buy a few more each time we shopped until we had enough we would use on a regular basis.
I like using them so much! They hold a lot more than it first appears, probably because they won't tear like plastic, and they have sturdy handles that make them easy to carry. I now have seven and got 95 percent of our groceries to fit in them when I went shopping this weekend (we usually go on a big trip once every two weeks, and this was the week).
While I don't have time currently to do a ton of research on this right now, this is information from a National Geographic article in 2003.
"The numbers are absolutely staggering," said Vincent Cobb, an entrepreneur in Chicago, Illinois, who recently launched the Web site http://Reusablebags.com to educate the public about what he terms the "true costs" associated with the spread of "free" bags. He sells reusable bags as a viable solution.
According to Cobb's calculations extrapolated from data released by the United States Environmental Protection Agency in 2001 on U.S. plastic bag, sack, and wrap consumption, somewhere between 500 billion and a trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide each year. Of those, millions end up in the litter stream outside of landfills—estimates range from less than one to three percent of the bags.
The figures may not be totally up to date, but even if we consume half that amount today, switching to reusable bags would still have a major impact on our environment.
I don't know about your household, but I know we throw away tons of those bags yearly because we just can't reuse all of them. We use them as liners for trash cans and lunches and bags for trips, but we can only use so many in a year.
We have always recycled and have increased our recycling to all the packages we can in our house, but I think this is one pretty painless step many of us can do to truly help reduce our waste in our world. I don't know how long these bags will last, but I figure even if I can get a good year out them, think of all the plastic bags I will have not used and kept out of landfills.
One warning to those who do not support the Susan B. Komen Foundation due to their support of Planned Parenthood clinics, there are bags floating around, especially this month since it is breast cancer awareness month, that are pink and a percentage of the sale goes to the Susan B. Komen foundation. It is not listed on the bag, but I looked up the information and they seem to be the only charity benefiting.
Happy shopping and let me know if you have any great ideas on ways to reduce waste.