My Green Confession: Paper or Plastic?

Welcome to the January 2013 Natural Living Blog Carnival: Green Confessions.

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Natural Living Blog Carnival hosted by Happy Mothering and The Pistachio Project through the Green Moms Network. This month our members have written posts about areas of their life where they aren’t as “green” as they may want to be.

This is my first time contributing to the Natural Living Blog Carnival, but I hope it won’t be my last. After this post, though, we’ll see. *hangs head in shame*

I’m not the “crunchiest” mom out there, I’ll be the first to admit, but I’m making changes in our family’s lifestyle, step-by-step, to be more conscious of areas in which we are wasteful. I’m a Christ-follower, and I believe God created the Heavens and the Earth, and we are its caretakers. I have a biblical obligation to be a good steward in what He has blessed me with.

My Green Confession:

I have always had a hoarding issue with plastic shopping bags and those cheap plastic hangers that clothes are hung on in stores. Even when I wasn’t conscious about the environment, something about throwing them away just seemed incredibly wasteful, so I kept them. My mother used to come over to visit me in my apartment (this is all before I was married); and when I wasn’t looking she’d open up the cupboard doors under my kitchen sink, grab the dozens of plastic bags I had stuffed under there, and throw them away. I was always so upset when I found out.

You’re probably asking why I didn’t just use reusable shopping bags, if it bothered me so much?

Would you believe the thought just never occurred to me? I didn’t know ANYONE that used reusable bags. I didn’t even know anyone that recycled. It was just a complete foreign culture for me at that point.

Present Day:

I know better now. I also have several reusable shopping bags small enough to stuff in my purse or diaper bag, as well as a pattern and fabric to sew more for myself, friends, and family (if I ever find the time). BUT I KEEP FORGETTING TO TAKE THE REUSABLE BAGS WITH ME TO THE STORE!!!!! AHHHHH!!!!! I feel so, so guilty over this.

My local grocery store does have a paper or plastic option. But here’s the thing…their paper bags are terrible. If I’m carrying anything heavy like cans or cartons, the handles tear off, even if my groceries are double bagged. It wouldn’t be such a big deal if it weren’t that I’m always carrying 5 or 6 grocery bags, plus my baby, plus the diaper bag, and possibly something else. So when I hear the question, “Paper or plastic?” I cringe inwardly, pause, hope no one around me ever reads my blog, and say, “Plastic is fine.”

I alleviate some of my guilt by saving the plastic bags and when I finally remember to, taking them to the grocery store’s plastic recycling bin. I also use them around the house as liners for our smaller trash cans, in my son’s diaper bag for the church nursery (only one of the dozens of rotating volunteers has yet to figure out the wet bag is for dirty cloth diapers, but they will use the plastic grocery bag), to keep shoes from touching clothes in a suitcase, etc.

Why don’t I just take the pastic bags back to the grocery store and reuse them there? Well, the same reason why I don’t take the reusable shopping bags to the grocery store either. I can’t remember anything since I had my son (Yes, I’m blaming him, because it’s true. I actually forgot my apartment number a few weeks ago.).

How I WILL Change:

When I check my son’s diaper bag before leaving our home, my new practice is to always make sure there are at least two reusable shopping bags bundled up inside the diaper bag. If I’m at the grocery store without a bag, I will say paper. If the paper bag breaks or it’s too difficult to carry several at once, I’ll leave the groceries in the car and come back for them. It will mean leaving my 8-month old alone for a few minutes (which I detest), but he has a play yard where I can safely put him.

Visit Happy Mothering and The Pistachio Project to learn more about participating in next month’s Natural Living Blog Carnival!

Please take some time to enjoy the posts our other carnival participants have contributed:

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  1. You know, I used to have the same problem with remembering to take my reusable bags. Since my toddler is 2, we usually just take a small wet bag with an extra diaper, few wipes, my clutch (super slim & holds my wallet, chapstick, receipts, and phone) when we go places. When I know I’ll be shopping, I use the diaper bag which is actually a 31 organizing tote that somehow took the place of my diaper bag and also acts as an additional reusable bag at the store. đŸ˜‰ I made my own bags & pattern & they have a convenient snap feature that keeps them neat & rolled up when not in use. I only need 4 for an entire cart of groceries– they’re strong!

    1. Wow, you’re much better at sewing and pattern creating, than I am, hahah! Your tutorial and pattern looks really good. I’ll give it a try, thank you! The good news is I remembered to take a reusable shopping bag to the grocery store today =D

  2. For a long time, I had trouble remembering my bags too! Now I think I have like 50 of them (not joking), so I keep them in the back of our SUV. Because I have so many of them, even if I forget to put the bags from the last shopping trip back into the car, there are still plenty in there for the next trip!

  3. Guilty here too…I do re-use them in my small trash cans though. I could bundle them up and take them to the recycle bin at the market, just never done it….I will try to do that the next time I am going to the market…Thanks for making us think!

  4. My brother, a dreamer like me, hangs his canvas bags on the coat hook, right next to his coat, his car keys and the leash for his dog. That did the trick for him.

    As for me, part of my routine is to pack my glass jars, for filling at the bulk section, into the shopping bags: no bags, no shopping. Certainly for the occasional trip to the mall, I bring my own bags. I mean, the stores don’t pay me for displaying their logo wherever I walk, do they?

  5. I know exactly what you mean. I hate when I forget my reusable shopping bags. But, I always ask for paper. My husband told me that most baggers use a plastic bag for every $10 you spend. (And it’s true bc I’ve tested the theory!) Well, that would be about 10-12 bags every week at the store. No way! Just ask them to double bag the paper. Hopefully that would help keep them from breaking and you can recycle them later.

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