Making a Dent, a Bag at a Time


A novelty in the 1970s, plastic shopping bags are now an omnipresent product found in every corner of the world. Produced at a rate of up to one trillion bags per year, they are showing up in the darkest depths of the ocean to the summit of Mount Everest to the polar ice caps. Being so widespread, plastic bags are intensifying some major environmental challenges.

1965 – The one-piece polyethylene shopping bag is patented by the Swedish company Celloplast. Designed by engineer Sten Gustaf Thulin, the plastic bag quickly begins to replace cloth and plastic in Europe.

1979 – Already controlling 80 per cent of the bag market in Europe plastic bags begin to spread to the United States and other countries around the world. Plastic companies begin to aggressively market their single-use product as superior to paper and reusable bags.

1982 – Safeway and Kroger, two of the biggest supermarket chains in the United States, switch to plastic bags. Though they are yet to be fully accepted by shoppers, single-use plastic bags are cheaper than alternatives, and more stores begin to follow Safeway and Kroger’s switch. By the end of the decade, plastic bags will have almost entirely replaced paper bags around the world.

2002 – Bangladesh is the first country in the world to implement a ban on thin plastic bags, after it was found they played a key role in clogging drainage systems during disastrous flooding. Other countries begin to follow suit.

2011 – Worldwide, one million plastic bags are consumed every minute.

Since the beginning of the year in Colorado, plastic trash bags can either be purchased per bag at a check-out or have been completely eliminated.  Here’s how some local residents are making do based on comments pasted to The Prowers Journal facebook site:

Forgetting my reusable bags have been an issue couple times already..but I think they work better! You don’t have to double up the bag if too heavy or if they tear. I’m learning leave some in my trunk!

Reusable bags. I have a big soft- sided cooler bag for things like frozen pizza as well as the hot/ cold bags for perishable foods. We live 30 miles from the closest grocery store. We started switching a few months ago to get in the habit.

Probably thinking of not holding up the line at checkout while they sacked it themselves instead of the cashiers or a bagger. Not all cashiers will bag it either. That’s my only complaint.

I’ve seen people using laundry baskets.

I think that stores should let customers use the boxes like sams.

I bought the reusable bags cloth and plastic l… I have saved money due to having only a number of bags to fill in my cart open and ready to fill and that’s all I buy cashier said it was easy for her to just remove the items scan and refill for me ! 👍🏻

If by myself I take my vinyl reusable bags into the store and bag them there. At the car too many homeless people or the like come to “beg” for whatever. It is hard to concentrate and pay attention to what I am doing. Be safe.

I saved a bunch of empty cat kibble bags, the 16-20lb size, and sewed them into shopping bags. They are fairly large, hold a lot of weight, and other than my time and some thread, they are free. If and when they wear out, no big deal, I always have more.

I’ve never purchased new reusable bags. I had a couple already with no decals on them that I take with me. I do check out myself and bag myself. I got tired of the lack of customer service from the checkers and the squashed bread and veggies from slacker cashiers and baggers.



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