Sunday, January 18, 2009

Excuse me while I remove my bra.....

Just when you think you have seen it all they come out with something else! I was surfing the internet looking at green products and searching for some reusable cloth shopping bags. The last thing I expected to find was a bra that can be converted into a shopping bag. Hmmm, that would turn a few heads in the supermarket!

Here is a video demonstrating the "shopping bag" bra

(Technical note re: video-There seem to be some technical difficulties viewing this video if you don't use Mozilla Firefox as your browser. I'm trying to iron out this glitch. Meanwhile,
click here to see the video on YouTube )

I'm not sure how practical the 'shopping bag' bra is but
reusable cloth shopping bags are a terrific alternative to disposable plastic bags. The use of disposable plastic bags is extremely problematic, to say the least. They need to be eliminated or at the least greatly restricted. Just take a look at the following facts and I think you will see what I mean.

The U.S. Environmental protection agency says that between 500 billion and one trillion plastic bags are used worldwide every year. That's over one million per minute. The U.S goes through 100 billion bags a year. Billions of these bags worldwide end up as litter. Only 1 % are recycled.

Instead, they are clogging waterways, getting tangled in trees, floating in the ocean, and breaking down into toxic bits which contaminate soil and waterways. Plastic bags account for over 10 percent of the debris that washes up on the U.S coastline. They kill animals from close to 200 different species of sea life. Hundreds of thousands of sea turtles, whales, and other marine animals die every year from eating discarded plastic bags that they mistake for food. In addition, many birds and animals die after becoming entangled in or smothered by plastic bags.

Switching from disposable plastic shopping bags to reusable cloth shopping bags can have a tremendous impact. Reducing or eliminating the use of plastic bags would have an impact in reducing litter, pollution, and in saving our wildlife. Plastic bags are made from polyethylene, a thermoplastic made from oil. Therefore, banning or restricting use of plastic shopping bags would also have a serious positive impact on our oil reserves, our dependence on foreign oil, and perhaps even factor into reducing our need for military involvement in the Middle East.

Since plastic shopping bags are made from oil, if you reduce or eliminate plastic bags you reduce oil consumption. For example, when China banned free plastic bags it resulted in a savings of 37 million barrels of oil each year. When Ireland began taxing plastic bag use in 2001, it cut consumption of bags by 90%, which in turn saves approximately 18 million liters (about 113,207 barrels) of oil every year. (Click here to see some of the other cities and countries who have banned or restricted plastic bag use as of May 2008

You may not think that the number of plastic bags you use could make much difference.

However, one source says that using just ONE cloth bag a week instead of plastic
  • takes the place of 6 plastic shopping bags
  • that's 24 bags a month
  • that's 288 bags a year
  • that's 22,176 bags in an average lifetime
  • and that if just 1 out of 5 people in our country did this we would save 1,330,560,000,000 bags over our life time.
  • Remember that's using just one cloth bag...imagine if you replaced all plastic bags with cloth ones.
A simple and easy alternative to plastic bags is reusable cloth shopping bags. They are available in stores and online for very reasonable prices. Bags made from materials other than cloth are also available. I bought a couple of reusable bags from Walmart last night for only $1.oo each. In addition to being a reusable alternative to disposable plastic bags, these bags are made from 85% recycled materials. The raw materials for each bag come from approximately 4 plastic soda bottles. The tag states that each of these bags can replace 50 plastic shopping bags and can carry the same weight as 2-3 plastic shopping bags. I'm going to experiment and see which I like best...cloth bags or these recycled plastics bags.

Here is a link discussing the hidden costs of cheap reusable bags like these I've described from Walmart.

The same site appears to have lots more informative articles that you might want to take a look at.
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You can also find lots more information on the internet.

My bias right now tends to be towards cloth bags for a number of reasons. Well-made cloth bags are sturdy, attractive, and if not highly processed their production may be less toxic than the recycled plastic bottle ones. While recycling is good, any production of plastics has toxic by-products. My gut sense is that we would be better eliminating plastic bottles entirely (substituting glass bottles or perhaps cans instead) rather than continuing to produce and then recycle them.

[In addition to the toxic byproducts produced in making and recycling plastics there is another issue regarding the continued use of plastics. This other issue is about the safety of foods and beverages packaged in plastics. Studies are continuing to come out saying that toxic chemicals are leaching into foods and beverages packaged in plastic.]

The following is a link for a slide show that does a great job of illustrating the facts covered in this blog post regarding plastic shopping bags. I'm going to be e-mailing it to people I know to give them an overview of the situation. Please,take a look may decide you want to send it out, too.

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