Project: BYOB: Bring Your Own Bag
Paper? Plastic? How about “none of the above”?
We all know it’s better to use reusable bags than to waste hundreds of plastic or paper bags every year. But when you’re in the checkout line and realize your reusable bags are out in the trunk, what are you going to do? It happens to all of us. You’ll have to grimace and go with the plastic bags, but just make sure to recycle them; many stores offer recycling. Then next time, put “reusable bags” at the top of your store list to remind you.
Video: Tour the world’s largest plastic bag recycling center:
Montgomery County has joined D.C. in levying a bag tax, effective January 1, 2012. Every plastic bag you use will cost you 5 cents. So bring reusables — they’ll be paid for in no time.
I recycle my plastic bags. Isn’t that good enough?
Not really. It’s better than having them fill our landfills, clog our waterways, or harm wildlife. But they’re almost all made from petroleum, a finite and dirty resource. It’s best to keep reusable bags handy — in the trunks of your cars, in your purse and briefcase.
It’s impossible to get away from plastic bags completely. Where can I recycle them?
Most grocery stores have plastic bag recycling bins right in the front of the store. If you keep forgetting to bring them, put the bags in your reusable shopping bag. Or, add it as an item to your grocery list. Use this list of bag recycling centers to find one near you.
I just can’t ever remember the dang bags. Help!
Keep reusable bags handy everywhere. You can find amazingly compact but very strong bags that easily fit into a purse, backpack, or briefcase. Keep some in your car. If you bike, you can get a removable basket you can take into the store. Do an online search — there are literally thousands of options to suit your style and budget.
What about the million other kinds of plastic bags besides grocery bags that I can’t seem to escape. Can they be recycled?
Just about any plastic bag can be recycled, including:
• newspaper bags
• dry cleaning bags
• bread bags
• produce bags
• toilet paper, napkin, and paper towel wrapping
• furniture & electronic wrapping
• plastic retail bags (hard plastic or string handles removed)
• plastic food storage bags (clean and dry), e.g. Ziploc® Bags
• plastic cereal box liners (if it tears like paper do not include)
• Tyvek (no glue, labels, other material)
• plastic shipping envelopes (no bubble wrap/remove labels)
• case wrap (e.g., snacks, water bottles)
• All clean, dry bags labeled #2 or #4.
Just make sure the bags are free of paper and receipts, chunks of food and any liquids.
What types of plastic bags can’t be recycled?
Don’t recycle food or cling wrap, bags containing prepackaged foods such as frozen food bags or prewashed salad bags, and bio-based or compostable plastic bags.