After trying once to educate everyone in my check-out line about the need to use fewer plastic bags, I decided that I might become a more popular citizen of my new town if I changed my strategy to one of silently influencing by example. I carry my canvas bags everywhere I go, folded up inside my purse, and I stuff our old plastic bags in the recycling bin at the grocery store.
Yesterday, I told the checker that I could put all the little items I bought inside my new watering can and I didn’t need the plastic bag she’d already opened. “Are you sure?” she asked. “Oh, I’m sure. These bags, they just multiply overnight like rabbits. Soon they’re going to take over our whole house.”
Even though my town has come a long way in recycling paper and cans, we still need to work on plastic bags. Petroleum is used to make the bags, most of our petroleum comes from other countries, and we need to cut our addiction to foreign oil. Besides, if we use less oil, costs will go down. Every year, 12 million barrels of oil are used to produce 30 billion plastic bags in the United States. And it doesn’t end there. The bags either live forever in landfills, like Styrofoam and disposable diapers, or they somehow get sucked into a trash vortex and end up in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, in an area twice the size of Texas called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. (Believe me, I just drove across the entire state of Texas, and it is big.)
When I lived in Eastern Europe in the 1990s, we all had relatively small amounts of trash. There was no packaging and everyone carried their own cloth bags to the market. I really came to appreciate the simpler lifestyle and not being burdened by so much stuff, and the garbage that comes from that stuff. OK, enough preaching. Didn’t I just say something about silently influencing?