They are durable, inexpensive and easy to get so why wouldn't we use them all the time? Over thirty million plastic bags are thrown out each year. They all end up in different places. Some get recycled others get sent to landfills. Plastics do not decompose they go through a process called photo-degeneration. The worst in when they end up in the water or in animals stomachs. There are lots of endings to the plastic bags life but very few are happy and environmentally friendly. This is why we must use alternatives when ever we can to reduce these numbers and fight pollution.
1. Biodegradable Plastic
Most plastics don't break down at all they just get smaller and smaller. There is an alternative! Thankfully there are biodegradable plastics available now. Plastic can be made of things that can breakdown like corn and potatoes. This is much better for the environment because these plastics can decompose instead of pollute. If you want to know if the plastics you are using are biodegradable they are usually labeled like this picture of the plastic bag on your right. If you have to use plastic try to use the biodegradable kind every chance you get.
2. Cloth Bags
In just about every situation we use plastic bags we can find alternatives instead. Cloth bags are one of these alternatives. They can used when you buy groceries. Think about how many grocery bags of food it takes to fill your fridge. By replacing those bags with cloth bags instead you are cutting down the number of plastic bags you use possibly for a whole lifetime. They can be used for more than just grocery trips. You can use cloth bags for library books or dropping off some stuff you borrowed from a friend. Keeping them in the car will help remind you to use them. Keep them in the closet or anywhere you would have stored your plastic bags before. You buy cloth bags just about anywhere now even the grocery store. They don't cost much and they make a huge difference. You can even make your very own. There have been some rumors about reusable cloth bags not being hygienic. This is silly you can always wash them. When shopping you should never put things like meats and veggies in the same bag but this goes for plastic bags too.
3. Crafty Lunchboxes and Snack Containers
Getting creative can be fun and can help the environment. You can make your own reusable lunch boxes out of material or re-purpose items you already have to do the job. One thing you can do is recycle those plastic Easter eggs that are thrown out each year. Instead of throwing them out try keeping snacks in them. They make handy little containers for goldfish, fruits, veggies and an assortment of other little snacks. You can even purchase a long lasting lunch box made out of recyclable materials of course.
4. Using plastic bags to make a reusable bag
So what do you do with the plastic bags you already have? One great idea is to use these plastic bags to make a long-lasting reusable bag out of them. This can be done in a couple of different ways.
Melting them into a big bag
The first is to melt them down into one thicker plastic bag. First, you fold up your plastic bags neatly into squares. Then stack them two or three on top of each other for thickness. Place wax paper underneath and on top of the squares. Then you use an iron to melt them down. After you melt many of these squares you can sew them together to make a nice thick reusable bag.
Weaving the plastic
The second way is to weave the plastic as you would material. First, you cut the plastic into strips. Then you attach the strips to a shuttle. Then you just weave a bag like you were using the regular materials.
How to melt plastic bags into a new one
5. Glass Jars
This one is for smaller items, but they totally work and when it comes to food they also help with portion control. Glass jars are one of my favorite ways to bring smoothies, soups, salads and snacks with me on the go. My favorite things about this option is that the lids are all the same and they are super easy to clean which is super important for those of us on the go.
Plastic bags are convenient items that make our lives a little easier. Unfortunately, they are not so great for the environment. Finding more eco-friendly alternatives is easy if you get creative. Re-using items you already have, turning single-use plastic bags into reusable ones and using alternative materials like glass are all little things you can do to reduce plastic waste.