American's like to Albeit Inadvertently:

I’ve written about this before but because I’m generally anal I had to re-visit this one more time.

Over the last 2 years, American Consumers embraced the opportunity to purchase environmentally safe--reusable shopping sacks from their favorite stores and boutiques. The premise for utilizing these sacks is simple. You’re reusing a bag to transport your goods from the store to your home eliminating the use of plastic and ultimately helping the environment.

The synthetic fibers and oils used to manufacture these reusable sacks leave less of a carbon footprint on the environment than their plastic counterparts and if used properly can and will reduce the use of plastic bags.

Great! However, the marketing geniuses on Madison Avenue have discovered that the sacks can also be used for advertising. This single idea can entice consumers with clever sayings and graphics branding not only the sacks but the people who carry them. If fact, many people proudly shoulder their branded sacks as a fashion accessory acknowledging where they shop and ultimately defining who they are.

However, labeling these reusable sacks changes the dynamics and principles of why they were introduced in the first place. A plain or single color branded sack if reused properly over the course of its three year life span can and will illuminate the disposal of 400 plastic bags. Of course, you have to reuse the sack at least 400 times for this to be achieved. 

Now take the multi-colored fashionable reusable sacks that many high end stores offer. The lead content and oils used in the graphics negatively affect the environment. In fact, it has been reported that the majority of consumers that employ the use of reusable sacks have accumulated over 20 sacks per household. Most are never used and are shoved under the sink or buried in a pantry never seeing the light of day.

The manufacturing and distribution for unused reusable sacks is growing. Again, the whole purpose of the reusable sack is to limit or eliminate the use of plastic bags.

Which brings us to another question about people who use reusable sacks, what are they using for bathroom and bedroom can liners? Many people reuse the plastic bags from grocery stores for small receptacles at home or to wrap chemical cleaners and sprays for safe storage.

The answer is simple; they’re buying small garbage bags to line small receptacles adding too and not reducing their use of plastic bags. This not only creates more toxic waste in our landfills it also adds  to their own expenses by purchasing small can liners instead of using plastic grocery bags they once accumulated.

So taking all this into consideration and to save our planet from the onslaught of plastic refuses, is it safe to say purchasing reusable sacks is a good idea for the environment or is it just another gimmick created by Madison Avenue creating a new revenue stream for their clients? 

All things equal using plastic or reusable bags is simply a preference.  If you like to using the trendy reusable sacks great. No harm, no foul.

However, I believe these trendy sacks will one day end up lying right next to the plastic bags and bottles currently residing in our nations landfills and Americans will find something else to embrace. Like all those American flags we had dangling from our car windows after 9/11.

We the fickle …


Stephanie Faris December 22, 2010 at 1:57 PM  

I don't reuse my trash can liners, although I've heard of some people who do. I figure all I can do is try to reduce/reuse/recycle all I can and not sweat every little thing. Even eliminating 50% of what I was tossing into landfills previously is helping, I believe. I do use the reusable grocery sacks. I reuse my water bottles 3 times before tossing them into the recycle bin (I tried the reusable cups but every one I've tried makes the water taste funny to me). I'm looking for those recyclable trash liners for my recycling goods, but I'm having a hard time finding them. I also use any paper I come across as writing paper. I just flip it over and write on the backside.

I Wonder Wye February 13, 2011 at 7:08 PM  

Always thought those American flags were kind of doofus. Yeah, I'm proud of my country and a patriot, or I wouldn't be here...seemed a wee brownshirt...we are very cautious with our buying habits -- recycle, use freebie bags we have been given or have picked up along the way, and try to reuse can liners when they're still clean - no plastic water bottles, using up what we can...I admit to being shocked a friend - family of 5 -wasn't recycling - though it was a no-brainer...I agree with Stephanie, we do what we can...

Autore February 13, 2011 at 7:32 PM  

Honestly I've seen less people using the sacks. I am convinced that if people stopped buying plastic water bottles and really gave forth a good effort with home recycling the impact would be much greater.

Reusable grocery sacks are nothing but a fad and the only thing they helped were the bottom lines of retailers whom offered them.