Ban the Bag in California!
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How To Trim The Plastic When Grocery Shopping

December 15 2011 | Rise Above Plastics,
by Bill Hickman

Day Without A Bag is today and the focus is to avoid carryout bags in favor of remembering your reusable bags.  It’s the easiest way to Rise Above Plastics at the grocery store, but just the tip of the plastic iceberg.  Here are some other tips to help trim the plastic:

1. Choose bulk items whenever possible and bring your containers from home to be filled.  Everything from pasta to granola to nuts to honey to shampoo and other products can be found in bulk at certain stores.

2. Refuse produce bags.  Most produce does not require to be bagged.  If you need a bag, there are reusable bags created specifically for produce.

3. Snacks, cereal and other items come in a plastic bag, what can you do?  Try to make your snacks and cereals from bulk items.  Or, use the empty bags to pick up the dog poo, line the small trash basket, etc.

4. Many people love bottled drinks, but you can make most of them from home for a fraction of the price.  Teas, lemonade and similar drinks have been made at home for ages and you can also make soda and sparking water from home with items like the Soda Stream. 

5. Choose items wrapped in paper rather than plastic when possible.  Bars of soap have less packaging then liquid soap and you can look for ones with no labels or minimal packaging.

6. Pass on bioplastics.  In some ways bioplastics are a step in the right direction, but in most ways they act just like regular disposable plastic.  They generally require commercial compost facilities to break down and it’s likely that very little bioplastic makes it there.  When recycled, if bioplastics are commingled with regular plastics they can potentially contaminate the whole batch.  Some grocery stores tout that it’s ok to prepackage produce now because the packaging is compostable.  Baloney!

7. Avoid microplastics.  This one can be a bit harder since they are so small.  At the grocery store, microplastics can be found in some health and beauty products hidden as an exfoliant.  Look for an ingredient called ‘polyethylene‘ which are too small to be filtered out at wastewater treatment plants.

8. Shop at farmers markets and bring your bags!  Farmers markets typically provide unpackaged, local whole foods at their finest.  You can pass on plastic and reap other environmental benefits when keeping it local.

9. Just say no to bottled water.  Why pay for something that you can get for free?  If you don’t like the taste of your tap water you can install at filter and fill your stainless steel reusable bottle for much cheaper than bottled water over time.

10. What to do with items like milk and juice?  That can be a tough one as glass milk bottles seem to be a thing of the past.  Personally, I go for plastic bottles over paper/plastic/composite cartons because they are much easier to recycle.

Do you have any more suggestions?  Add them in the comments section.

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