Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

How to remember your reusable bags at the grocery store

Consider the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, where 3.5 million tons of trash swirls about the Pacific Ocean in an area the size of Texas. As much as 80 percent of that trash comes from the land. It contains, you guessed it, many of our plastic shopping bags.

While these plastic bags will never biodegrade, they may eventually photodegrade. This means they just turns into smaller and smaller pieces. This plastic gets ingested by fish: a recent study showed that “35% of the fish collected on a 2008 research expedition off the West Coast had plastic in their stomachs.”  

Something must be done to turn the tide on plastic shopping bags in the Pacific: in Southern California, we are doing it. On August 1, 2011, a plastic ban when into effect in Long Beach. The same happened last week for Santa MonicaHuntington Beach is now considering doing the same. 

Dorothy Quon of Long Beach shares “I think it's good to recycle and we need to do something to step it up a little.” But others aren’t so happy about the switch. Rick Beechem of Los Angeles told ABC 7, “For me it's a real inconvenience to have to carry a bag and constantly keep one in the car and remember to bring in a reusable bag."

We hear you, Rick Beechem. So how best to remember your bags?

First, leave multiple reusable bags in your car.  The key is to remember to put them back.

You can also carry a bag neatly rolled up into your purse or large pocket. This line from Flip & Tumble can make itself into a handy little ball. 

Consider putting a reminder on your key chain. Or even a bag on your keychain. This bag from Reisenthel offers a hook for keys or belt. 

Carry a big bag that doubles as a fashionable tote. June Fifteen offers up a line of sustainable cotton and jute bags that feel at home amongst your hip handbags. Better yet, they fit your carton of milk. 

And finally, stuff yourself. If you know you’re heading to the store later, stuff a reusable or old plastic bag in your pocket or purse. You might feel a little diaper-padded, but you’ll remember to use it.

Image: katerha/Flickr