Do you ever find yourself taking the plastic bag at the grocery store simply because you need it for garbage? I’ve done this myself a few times.
I’ll bring my reusable tote to the store, but before I can whip it out, the cashier has already stuffed my purchase into a bag and handed it to me, turning his/her attention to the next customer. Or, I might be at the Chinese grocery store and their English is a little patchy as is my Chinese. The item goes into the bag and it just seems like too much hassle to explain that I don’t need a bag and hope that they’ll understand what I’m saying. I’ve even taken the item out of the bag before, only to see the cashier take the plastic bag and then throw it into the trash.
At the local supermarket, there’s one cashier who insists that I take a bag or she’ll stick a gigantic sticker on my item to show that it’s paid for. In this instance, I debate which is better for the environment — a plastic bag that I’ll reuse or a giant sticker that I’ll throw out.
What tips the scale for me in all of the above scenarios is that I use grocery bags for throwing out my trash. And since I’ve been using reusable bags for over a decade, I’ve already run through the ones I’ve gotten from friends/family/freecycle. As more and more people use reusable totes, I’m facing a shortage of garbage bags.
Here in California, I just learned that it’s illegal to flush your cat waste as a potential parasite in cat poo can is causing serious harm to the sea otter population. So, what’s a girl and a cat to do?
Well, I’ve come up with a number of greener alternatives to collecting grocery bags to dispose of your cat’s litter. Here they are:
- Toilet paper roll packaging: Buy the jumbo pack of 12 rolls, and instead of just tearing off the plastic wrap, cut one end open. You now have a giant-sized bag for throwing out cat litter.
- Ditto for the plastic wrapper on paper towels.
- Use a smaller cat litter scoop. Now you can easily use smaller bags for tossing out kitty’s waste as the smaller scoop will fit inside the smaller bag.
- Ask friends with babies (up to 2 to 3 years) to save the bags that the disposable diapers come in. You’ll have an endless supply. Yes, in an ideal green world, your friends would use cloth diapers, but as a parent, you learn that idealism and babies do not go hand in hand. It really depends on the baby!
- Ask friends with newspaper subscriptions to save those annoying bags that newspapers are delivered in. The bags are super narrow, which is where your small cat litter scoop will come in handy.
- Produce bags for fruits and veggies are also handy for disposal. Again, in an ideal world, you’d pick everything loose and reuse mesh bags. I use a CSA and they insist on sending my organic produce in plastic baggies. At least the bags are biodegradable. I asked if I could send back the bags to be reused. The answer was an obvious no.
- Pay attention to packaging. Bought a new computer? Guess what? It probably came in a plastic bag inside the box. Underwear? Plastic bag. Ikea furniture? Plastic bag. Spinach? Plastic bag. Etc.
- Ask friends/family for their produce bags, grocery bags, plastic bags, etc. In your ideal world, you’d convince them all to use reusable bags, but let’s face it, not everyone is going to do this, so you might as well use their bags.
- Post on your local Freecycle.org a request for bags.