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ONE SMALL THING,
ONE BIG IMPACT

I remember going to the grocery store with my mom when I was a kid. I’d sit underneath the cart while she filled it with the week’s groceries (no sugary cereals, plain potato chips only). When we’d get to the checkout line, the cashier would empty the basket (do any stores do that anymore?), and the bagger would stuff as much as he could into paper bags, resulting in many ripped bags and my chasing after cans of creamed corn in the parking lot. There was no, “paper or plastic?” Just paper.

Now, there are so many choices: organic, gluten-free, free-range, paper, plastic . . . or bring your own bags. Who would have thought that one day we’d be able to help protect our planet by doing just one little thing – bringing our own reusable bags to the grocery store? In 2008, one source estimated that the world consumption of plastic bags was 500 billion. That’s with a “b.” Those bags end up in landfills, streams, oceans and wrapped around the necks of our wildlife. It takes months to hundreds of years for these bags to breakdown. And, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), pulp and paper mills, which produce paper grocery bags (among other things), release highly toxic chemicals like methanol and formaldehyde into the air and water during the paper-making process.

Now that all this troubling information is out there, cities have taken notice and some have decided to ban the use of plastic and paper bags in stores. Cities in California, Hawaii and Washington have imposed this ban, and some even charge a small fee for the use of paper or plastic bags. Savvy consumers have taken notice by bringing their own bags to do their shopping. Some stores sell their own reusable bags, and there are many sites online that offer reusable bags, ranging from inexpensive to pricey, with designs that are as unique as you are. You can show your desire to help save the Earth, show your funny side or serious side, and even support your favorite cause – just by buying and bringing in your own reusable bag when you shop. Bags have become an extension of who we are as consumers and crusaders to save the planet.

While it may not be feasible for everyone to go completely “green,” we can make a huge difference just by doing one small thing – refusing paper and plastic, and choosing to bring our own reusable bags when we shop.

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