Blog Post

Breaking Your “Bag” Habit: Smart (and reusable) plastic bag alternatives.

Being a better recycler is easy if you can break a few habits. Breaking the “bag” habit and reducing your reliance on plastic bags makes a huge difference in living a cleaner and greener life.

Plastic bags turn into pesky plastic parachutes at landfills, getting caught in trees and littering the surrounding area. Rumpke recycling facilities also experiences problems from an influx of plastic bags, which are not acceptable for plastic recycling. Even with a preventative bag vacuum system, plastic wads must be removed from equipment and unraveled from spinning machinery on a regular basis. There’s simply no good way to deal with them at our recycling centers, so we’re asking for your help. Why use a plastic bag when you could use colorful, friendly and smart alternatives?

Convenient, easy to use, budget-friendly alternatives to break your “bag” habit:

Large Reusable Bags

A reusable bag does a better job of holding, organizing and carrying anything. You can find standard sizes at your local grocery store, but I personally prefer the larger (and prettier) versions sold for $1 at TJ Maxx and Marshalls. No matter where you get them, these bags have handles and a sturdy shape, which makes them easy to pack and carry. Plus, they fold flat for easy storage and can be kept in the car for impromptu shopping stops. Reusable bags are also great for creating additional recycling stations throughout your home and on the go. Place one upstairs, in the kitchen, in the car and in rooms where you generate a lot of recyclables. When full, empty them into the larger recycling container or bring to a Rumpke Recycling drop-off box.

Paper Bags

 Forgot your reusable bag? Ask for paper. Brown paper bags are recyclable. Use them to collect recyclable items under the sink or in a room, than place the entire bag and contents into the drop-box or bin. Brown paper bags are also great for padding delicate items when storing or moving, or can be placed inside shoes to absorb odor and keep their shape. Ripped to the point of no return? Just crumple it up and recycle.

Cardboard Boxes

Most grocery stores use a cage-like cart to collect empty boxes throughout the store before breaking them down for recycling. Shoppers are welcome to take boxes from the cart for personal use, or save yourself and grocery store staff a trip by grabbing an empty box right off the shelf. Cardboard boxes are great for organizing items within or beneath your cart to prevent them from rolling and squishing, and can help you keep hot and cold items separate. They’re especially nice for standing plastic or glass bottles upright to prevent clanking and to keep smaller items like makeup from falling through the cracks in your cart. Want avoid the unloading and bagging process completely for a super quick checkout? Grab an extra box before heading to the cashier then place boxes with items still inside onto the conveyor. Your cashier will be able to remove items from one box, scan them, then place them directly into the empty box. When checkout is complete, place groceries and boxes directly into the trunk of your car. No rolling jar of spaghetti sauce clanking against your canned soup, no flattened loaf of bread, no ice cream melted all over your hot chicken dinner. Your groceries will remain organized and be easy to put away when you return home. You may even wish to keep them in their boxes in the pantry for further organization.

You’ll be amazed at how drastically these alternatives decrease the number of plastic bags you acquire. Try them out and give us your feedback via Facebook and Twitter. Got a plastic alternative we didn’t mention? Share that too! Our team is always looking for new ways to live cleaner and greener.

Thank you ahead of time for the huge difference you’re about to make in helping us control the number of plastic bags at our facilities.

About the Author: Taylor Greely is the corporate communications assistant at Rumpke.

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