…and, according to this weekly Sunday circular, you can celebrate Earth Week by buying even more stuff at Target. Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fat fan of Target and this fascinating flash animation of the proliferation of its stores across a map of the United States since 1962, in truth, is less my sadness over consumerism and its evils and more a roadmap for finding stuff at one store when the other has sold out of stuff, like its Liberty of London for Target partnership that launched last month.
But, at least this week, we are supposed to be even more conscious and emboldened to do things like drink tap water instead of buying bottled water, walk or bike to work instead of drive or choose neither paper nor plastic and, instead, BYOBag. This latter tip I blogged about in 2007, the year that San Francisco banned plastics bags. Unfortunately, the article, “The Environmental Cost of a Free Canvas Bag“, which I read last year in Utne Reader online conjectures that you would need to reuse a canvas bag perhaps 400 times in order to really give the planet a helping hand: “Judging by the cost, producing one tote is equivalent to producing 400 plastic bags. That’s fine if you use a tote 400 times, but what if you just end up with 40 totes? The environmental promise of reusable bags becomes dubious when there are closets full of them in every home.” Ironically, “[t]he plastic bag itself began as an environmental salve. Before the introduction of ultra-thin plastic bags in the 1980s, groceries were primarily packed in paper. Plastic was touted as a way to save trees.”
I confess that I probably do have over a dozen or two reusable bags in varying sizes kept as give-aways, purchased while waiting at the checkout counter and received as gifts. I might even have 40. And still, I will sometimes forget and leave them in the trunk of my car or find that the one that I do keep in my purse at all times is not enough for all of my purchases and I end up coming home with another disposable bag anyway. Still, I think I’ve likely used a few of them greater than 52 times, i.e. once a week for a year across several years. Do you keep a stash of reusable shopping bags? Does your use–say 400 uses per bag–justify the environmental cost (or even the cost to your home budget) of the bag; or are these bags just more stuff?