There are easy ways to make a difference, all you have to do is try.
Alright folks, time to ditch the plastic bag! So many grocery stores and department shopping centers are now offering reusable bags in fun colors and designs. My humble suggestion… USE them! They are a great alternative to their deadly counterpart, the plastic bag. I use several from The Surfrider Foundation as well as ones from places I’ve trekked to as souvenirs. The best repurposing idea I have adopted is to make them myself out of old t-shirts.
We all have those sentimental or nostalgic t-shirts that we really don’t wear anymore and are just too heartbreaking to let go or donate.Why part with them when there is a simple and fun solution to get another round of life from old shirts?! Well it turns out that they are perfect candidates for reusing them as t-shirt bags. Thank you Patagonia Santa Monica for showing me this amazing idea as a brilliant lifestyle habit.
Here is how: All that is needed is an old raggedy shirt and a sewing machine.
Step 1) Simply cut off both sleeves and along the neck area to the create the bag handles.
Step 2) Flip the shirt inside-out and sew the bottom of the shirt closed.
Step 3) Flip the shirt inside-out again so the hem seam is now on the interior.
Voilà! Instant reusable bag with a personal touch. Now each old shirt has a new life cycle and a cool backstory to share whenever people ask, “Where’d you get that bag?”
It is so easy that I am always looking forward to turning old t-shirts into new reusable bags. An added perk is that I can wash them if they get dirty from produce and such. In many cases I utilize them as sacks for carrying my rock climbing shoes and chalk to a crag or dirty clothes when I go camping. They last longer, clean better, and are harmless to the earth. I even made it into a fun project to teach my nieces. Not only did they get to choose their own t-shirt from their closet, but I had the opportunity to instruct the girls how to sew. Here is a photo of finished t-shirt bags they each completed.
If one person reads this and makes their own reusable bag or invests in the ones already made by stores, I will be one ecstatic happy camper. To me, it means less plastic bags falling into the hands of a consumer and less potential to pollute or harm the environment.
Let me take a second to bring awareness to the issue regarding the plastic bag. This source of one-time use plastic is detrimental to the health of wildlife populations and polluting our world from the city streets to the depths of our oceans. It is no news that single-use plastic bags are the leading cause of ocean trash pollution including the giant Pacific Garbage Patch. Or is it news? I realized for some of us, we might not know how our daily choices of habit actually impact other walks of life on this earth beyond our homes and property line. To get a great perspective on the problem of plastics affecting all of our oceans, please view the film Plastic Paradise.
It is not that I am against all plastic bags. I do use large trash bags for that one day garbage truck pick up, but the plastic culprit I am talking about is the grocery and department store shopping bags. Those plastic bags that are given by the hundreds, thousands, and millions every single day only to end up right in the trash once the convenience of carrying our shopping items are brought safely into our homes. Those little plastic bags used to separate our produce to then be placed inside another larger plastic bag and repeat the same cycle of throw-away routine once it reaches our destination. What we do not realize is how this disposable habit is detrimental to the planet we live on. Plastic bags fall out of trash cans into the streets, get trapped in gutters building up stagnation, travel by wind to get stuck in urban fences and beautiful trees, or even make its way into waterways straight out into the ocean. The problem continues to get worse… birds carry them off as food for their young or raveled in its plastic strains to hinder them flightless, sea turtles swallow floating bags because they look like jellyfish, so much marine life get tangled up in them to die, land animals grow sick and have been found with huge balls of plastic bags unfortunately mistaking them as meals, and bags constantly wash up on shore of beaches to create an eye-sore. Too many animals have tummies full of plastic instead of actual food. The issue goes beyond the small margin of local impacts but on a global scale with an alarming growth rate that has accelerated over the past half century.
Plastic bags are in the top five deadliest items of trash found in the ocean. There is more plastic in the oceans than there are fish or stars in the galaxy! Nothing is convenient about disposable plastic bags when oil and natural gases are extracted from the earth to be transported to refineries where factories formulate these materials into P.E.T. resin. Then the material is shipped off into plastic bag producing plants in order to melt the resin to form the plastic bags. The last step in the process is using more gasoline to get them trucked away to stores world wide. Talk about the excessive amount of resources and emissions to create one plastic bag, to be utilized… once.
Take a stroll by the sea and lend a hand to gather the little bits of trash and plastic bags. I would be surprised to see a beach without evidence of the presence of plastic. In fact the only place I have ever seen a 100% clean beach, with nothing but shells, was on La Isla Isabela, Galápagos Islands. My dream for the world is for all of us to experience walking on plastic-free sands and natural shores. Until then, I have a better idea of using our resources and efforts more wisely… REUSABLE BAGS!