We only recycle 2% of plastic bags because it costs more to make them than to reuse them. As much as people don’t want to remind themselves to carry extra items with them, the question remains – is it worth the trouble to invest in reusable bags for shopping?
When you hear the term “zero waste,” do not get distracted by the terminology. Just understand that the idea is to reduce waste as much as possible. I don’t think you can actually never produce waste – not yet anyways. Therefore, don’t beat yourself up or feel that the zero waste movement is too much to bother with. You don’t have to strive for the number – just the effort. I know I certainly am.
The power and impact you have
I am assuming that if you are reading this blog, you are at somewhat curious about the zero or low waste movement or are interested in what you can do better your life for the environment and the people on this earth.
I can tell you that the first step is to start bringing reusable bags to shop. By using reusable bags, you avoid:
- Adding toxic chemicals to water and ground as the bag decomposes through photo degradation.
- Contributing to the death count of around one million birds, 100,000 turtles, and countless other sea animals that die each year from ingesting plastic.
- Littering landfills since plastic bags tend float off to clog drains, fly into trees, and wash up on the coastlines.
Is paper just as good as reusable bags?
If you are thinking, “I am too lazy to remember to bring my bag. I’ll ask for paper instead of plastic.” Guess what? Though paper is more biodegradable, you are still contributing to the cutting down of 14 million trees a year in the U.S. to supply the raw material to make paper shopping bags.
Additionally, paper bags:
- Take 13% more energy to make a single paper bag than to make two plastic bags.
- Production involves the use of chemicals and high temperatures while releasing toxins at nearly the same rate as plastic bag production.
- Are only recycled 20% of the time.
Frustrating – I know. It seems everywhere we turn; there is some evil attached. But don’t lose faith! There is a simple answer to this problem – reusable bags.
Be all that you can be
Sometimes we get caught up in life and forget our bags but don’t sweat the little stuff! Bringing your bags for the majority of the time will still have a significant impact on the environment.
I know every now and then my only option is to opt for a plastic bag or paper bag when I forget and there’s too much to carry. However, the majority of the time, I bring my reusable bag or carry my items back to the car by hand- which can help you save on impulse purchases as well!
All I did to help me remember is to make it habit to care and a habit of trying – and that is what counts!
Though people can argue it costs more to produce a reusable bag, the waste you are saving outweighs the energy involved in producing it.
Plus, as we move toward more renewable energy, the energy card will hopefully not be available to play. In the meantime, outwear ALL of your reusable bags. The more you can reuse them, the more eco-friendly they are.
The bottom line with reusable bags?
My advice, though it may cost upward to $10-20 a bag, purchase durable, reusable bags that you would enjoy sporting around. The more well-made the bags are, the longer it will last.
Cheaper ones, though affordable, can still be a viable option but beware of it breaking down sooner in the longer term. I always opt for the $3-6 range personally. I haven’t had to reuse or repurchase a bag since. If one broke, it is because I bought it from Walmart or TJ Maxx.
Additionally, if you like the design and look of the bag, then you will be more likely to use it! Who wants to sport around an ugly blue bag from Walmart? Why not carry a rustic Trader Joes bag, a colorful 100% cotton bag from Whole Foods, or a simple and chic piece from Tern Goods?
The goal is not to buy as much. That is how we will ultimately stride toward a zero waste mentality. So if you have bags lying around the house – use them/don’t buy.
The OOTD Breakdown
As mentioned in my Greenwashing post, this top and pant – though gorgeous – are from two brands known for greenwashing. I bought from both brands at the same time and have my fingers crossed that they will not falter for a very long time.
Lulu’s mauve bodysuit is sexy, which was immediately love at first try. The open back, tinge of side-boob, but total modesty in the front is so my style. The open gap and baby pink color are adorable as well.
Ever since I saw my friend in holey jeans, I have been on the search for some just like it for my body type. High-waist was a must and the holier, the better. Thus, this American Eagle jegging was meant to be. Though I am disappointed in the brand, this will be the last piece I purchase from them. I hope to enjoy it for many years to come.
The earrings are a hand-me-down from my mother-in-law. I love the rustic gold and neutral matte colors of the dangling beads. It went perfectly with this outfit’s mauve touch and added even more of a flair.
Lastly, the navy sandals are from Rack Room Shoes. I bought them before I decided to change Mi Style Su Style to more sustainable fashion. Nonetheless, I love them as something I will milk until I cannot wear them anymore. The colors were a fun pop of dark neutral without being a boring black.
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