Farewell, to plastic grocery bags

“The answer to the age old question ‘paper or plastic?’ could turn out to be neither. With the world trying to go green, and grocery stores such as Giant Eagle and Acme Fresh Market selling reusable totes to haul away your goodies, plastic bags seem to be on the way out.”

The answer to the age old question ‘paper or plastic?’ could turn out to be neither.

With the world trying to go green, and grocery stores such as Giant Eagle and Acme Fresh Market selling reusable totes to haul away your goodies, plastic bags seem to be on the way out.

Since plastic bags are so cheap to produce, they are used in massive quantities.

The grocery store clerk will use one bag for one or two items, and sometimes even double bag items that don’t need it. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. consumes over 380 billion plastic bags each year.

Vincent Cobb, an entrepreneur from Chicago created the Web site Reusablebags.com in 2003 to inform the public about the damage plastic bags are inflicting on our environment.

He not only educates, but also sells his own line of reusable bags in a variety of sizes and colors.

Worldwide, roughly 4 billion plastic bags end up as litter every year, according to his calculations.

These plastics are not biodegradable; they photo degrade, which is a process in which the sun breaks down the plastic into smaller pieces, thus making them never really go away.

The plastic ends up polluting our soil, littering our streets and are responsible for the deaths of immeasurable animals that mistake the toxic pieces for food, according to Reusablebags.com.

Billions of plastic bags are choking our planet, Cobbs writes on his Web site, in attempt to get the public’s attention on this important issue.

Many other organizations have begun to cut back on using plastic bags.

Auxiliary Enterprises at the University of Akron is currently trying to eliminate the use of plastic bags distributed from our business units, according to Mike Szcukowski, UA’s recycling guru and leader of Earth Day at UA.

He said the university’s DocuZip will now give out a pocket folder or a paper bag instead of plastic bags.

Both items are easily reused or recycled on campus.

Giant Eagle has taken steps forward to help the environment.

Giant Eagle’s Conservation Department manages recycling programs at their stores, offices and warehouses.

They provide a bin for customers to drop their plastic bags in participating stores, according to their Web site which is recycled into useful products such as composite building materials and toys.

In 2006 stores diverted over 565 tons of plastic from landfills, according to Giant Eagle’s Conservation Department’s calculations.

Giant Eagle also sells reusable tote bags in effort to urge customers to forgo using plastic bags all together.

Another grocery store known to the Akron area, Acme Fresh Market, has also made an effort to recycle plastic bags.

The store provides recycling bins in the front lobby where customers can drop off their plastic bags, according to Rachelle Smith, Manager of Special Promotions for Acme.

She said Acme also sells affordable canvas and mesh reusable shopping bags.

Even the industry that creates the culprit, The American Plastics Council has begun working with its U.S. retail customers to encourage recycling of plastic bags.

Consumers are encouraged to recycle grocery bags, retail bags, paper towel and toilet paper plastic wrap, plastic newspaper bags and plastic dry cleaning bags, according to The 2006 National Post-Consumer Recycled Plastic Bag and Film Report.

Giant Eagle, Acme, and the University of Akron are taking initiatives to recycle and avoid the use of plastic bags, and others should take note.

Whether consumers reuse them in their home for lunch bags, picking up after their dog while on a walk or simply dropping them off in Giant Eagle’s recycle bins, it seems that anywhere is better than the streets.

Plastic bags have become the tumbleweed of the 21st century, Szcukowski said.

I believe that if there is anything that can be recycled, it should be recycled.