Is your grocery bag as Sustainable as mine?
Nobody is spared from grocery shopping. Even if you yourself don’t go for grocery shopping, someone is doing that for you. We all need food and energy to live and get through the week. You might be using big shopping carts in supermarkets to carry the items through the store or you might prefer going to vendors selling produce on carts, all depends on your pocket, preference and proximity from the market. But what do you use to carry the items from vendor to vendor or to carry the purchased items back home?
A plastic bag? Or maybe it’s plural, bags?? You must fill the whole boot of your car with plastic bags full of grocery items, don’t you? If yes, then you should’ve been smarter than that…
Don’t just blame your supermarket for providing you with a plastic bag to keep the items in. Supermarkets or grocery stores tend to charge you for a bag, which usually is a large plastic bag to keep multiple smaller bags or items in. Plastic bags are usually cheaper to manufacture so they cost less, therefore, are the preferred choice for Supermarkets or local vendors. Plastic bags are BAD for the environment, cheaper to get and manufacture but have a very high cost in the long-run.
Let’s talk some more about Plastic bags:
A picture is worth a thousand words, and here is one which shows a shopping bag from Forever 21, a part of the bag which if you focus on, is already telling you how long it would stay in the world for… practically “Forever”. This plastic shopping bag is a vampire, and not the cool kind… not even with the trendy clothes in it. These unnatural materials and substances do not decompose like organic material, unless biodegradable. These fossil-based plastic bags might have the strength to carry a few kilograms, they can be re-used for a few trips to the market, but not for long, and have a very high environmental cost. Every year we go through billions of plastic bags, re-usable or single-use, they all pollute our planet. They end up in landfills or as we’ve all seen, in the oceans or other water bodies, where they cause harm to marine life and at times kill them. We even found one at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench, the deepest plastic bag. And no, it is not a champion for doing so, it is poison, for the people who use it, and for where it ends up.
Now what other bags can you use? Instead of Plastic..
The alternative materials to plastic are the most commonly used paper bags, but they lack the strength and sturdiness to carry weight and stay upright. They are environmental-friendly but yet cannot be used here.
Then comes the world’s most popular fabric: Cotton. It makes a good bag, is 100% biodegradable, but can be expensive to manufacture. Cotton is a pesticide-intensive crop which means that it maybe a better option as a bag, instead of plastic, but the cultivation of cotton leads to high usage of harmful chemicals in the form of pesticides. These pesticides pollute the soil and ground water, which in reality is horrible for nature.
Now what can be a sustainable grocery bag?
According to Aim To Sustain, the best grocery bag which serves all the functions of durability, reusability and biodegradability is: Jute
Jute, aka golden fabric, is eco-friendly and sustainable. However, jute can be more expensive compared to plastic bags but it does not pollute the environment as much as synthetic plastic does. Jute as a material is versatile, can be transformed into many shapes and sizes, even used in accessories. It has high tensile strength, low extensibility and good breathability, which makes Jute as the ideal material for a grocery bag, at least.
Such jute bags, when they come into use, the demand for plastic bags does down, they stay in use for significantly longer than plastic bags too. Even your purchased produce stays fresh for longer because jute is a plant-based organic material which has breathability and is 100% biodegradable and compostable. They are resistant to wear and tear, they can stand for longer and even promote the idea of sustainability.
If we opt for jute bags, even if just for grocery trips, we could really phase out single-use plastic bags out of our society and our mindset. The need to purchase bags with every visit to the supermarket would simply be eliminated if we start carrying such reliable and long-lasting bags. Now, as supermarkets don’t provide us with bags, we really need to see this as an opportunity to encourage people to follow habits of sustainable living and transition from a plastic based society to a more organic and nature-based way of living our lives.