Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Carbon Footprint

Shopping at discount stores, malls, food markets, and the services of laundry and newspaper result in an accumulation of plastic bags in my home. I need a few plastic bags for can liners of kitchen garbage, but the ready supply far exceeds my usage.

My wife and I deposit excess plastic bags in recycle bins at the grocery store, then proceed into the store only to depart with 6 to 12 new plastic or paper bags.

In order to curb this accumulation of plastic and paper bags, I began to use cloth bags to pack groceries at the food market. I take a cloth bag to the grocery store filled with various plastic bags and empty them into the bin at the store entrance.

I place the empty cloth bag(s) in the shopping cart, locate our grocery needs on the shopping list and proceed to checkout. There, I pass the cloth bag(s) to the clerk and request that my purchases get packed into one or two cloth bags.

This idea is not original, but I don't see other shoppers using their own reusable containers to carry out their purchases.

The idea came to my attention while vacationing in Los Angeles last summer. There, my wife and I visited Trader Joe's, a store I recently heard on a podcast. While touring the store, I noticed cloth bags for sale to pack groceries. I didn't buy one, but thought it was a great idea.

My wife found similar bags in our home that we acquired from attending a T3 Mathematics Conference in Salem, Virginia.

Does this new habit move me toward a Carbon Neutral footprint? I believe it does because fewer plastic bags will be extruded because of my reduced usage. This should reduce CO2 emissions at the plastics factory. I know this is a baby step, but this is one step among many I've taken over my adult lifetime.

Recycling of newspapers, glass, plastic containers, paperboard boxes are habits in our home. Recycling for me began over 35 years ago while in college where I developed a habit of recycling newspapers. I almost never place old newsprint into the trash. I've been known to bring newspapers home from vacation or business trips just to add them to my recycling heap.

The picture above shows typical plastic bags and the picture below shows one cloth bag filled with groceries.

Have a good week!


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