Monday, September 15, 2008

Reusable Shopping Bags

Reusable shopping bags are becoming more popular as the ramifications of using plastic and paper bags are better understood. San Francisco has banned petroleum-based plastic checkout bags in large markets and pharmacies, and Whole Foods no longer gives out plastic bags at the register.

Plastic bags are made from oil, they don’t degrade in landfills and constantly get stuck in trees and storm drains. Estimates vary greatly, but Americans use anywhere from 15 billion to 300 billion plastic bags per year. That sounds crazy, but it’s actually quite plausible. Let’s take a number on the low end of that spectrum--30 billion. If the 300 million Americans each use 100 bags per year (about two bags per week), that’s 30 billion bags per year.

And two bags each week isn’t that many when you think about it.

The numbers for paper bags are equally shocking; it’s estimated that 14 million trees are needed to make the 10 billion paper bags used annually in the United States.

I started using a reusable shopping bag about a year ago. At first, I couldn’t remember to bring it with me to the market. Slowly but surely, grabbing the bag became part of my shopping routine.

Recently, I figured I’d make the conversion easier for everyone, so I ordered 1,000 bags (branded with the Cook with Class logo, of course). If you’d like one, please e-mail me at

Let’s all do our part to help out a little. Granted, the following quotation from Robert F. Kennedy may be a little extreme when it comes to reusable shopping bags, but it plays into the bigger picture of how an individual’s actions can have an impact:
Few will have the greatness to bend history; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is thus shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.


Brian said...

Bravo, Chef Rob. The ways in which our habits surrounding food degrade the environment are numerous. Kudos for speaking up and helping out.

Jodi W. Brown said...

Plastic bags are made from oil, they don’t degrade in landfills and constantly get stuck in trees and storm drains. Cooperative Electrical discount code