The Things That Grocers Don't Tell You About
A 5 minute read that will change the way you view food.
Did you know there are more than 315 million plastic bags used in North America alone, every single day?
Ponder this... you’re making your weekly grocery trip; when you are in the produce section, you may be alongside others grabbing those flimsy, hard-to-open plastic bags to store a head of lettuce, or some chocolates at the bulk food isle. How many people come through your favorite grocery store per day? How many grocery stores are there in your neighborhood? How about in the country?
The numbers start to add up with the sheer number of individuals on their supermarket trip too.
But that doesn't mean that we should be belittled into thinking that our actions don’t matter. Every action does matter, at an exponential scale. Each refused bag is a single-use plastic bag that doesn’t end up in our landfills and waterways. Each refused bag is saved from the energy that it takes to produce and transport the bag to your local grocer. That reusable bag that you're using is spotted by an impressionable teen at the checkout, which inspired her, and her family to choose reusables as well. Now think about the impact if you multiply that by 365 days… and pretty much forever if you choose to reuse.
That’s the impact we’re talking about.
We are living through a drastic change in our consumer habits; as we’ve come to realize that using a plastic bag for 5 active minutes, then throwing it “away” (into a landfill to last a thousand years before degrading into smaller pieces) doesn't really make sense. The similar logic applies for items such as plastic straws and takeaway meals and to-go foods.
Some bags don't even make it to a landfill or recycling facility; due to their sheer weight and shape, plastic bags can float around and pollute for long distances.
It wan't always like this.
Even just a couple decades ago, grocery stores used paper bags. While it may have been single-use, it was a better option than the chemically made and non-biodegradable plastic that is so freely offered nowadays.
Compared to paper, plastic is a cheaper alternative. It’s cheaper for the grocery store to offer, but it costs the environment and our health a hefty price…
Why do we use plastic bags in the fresh food department in the first place?
- To combine the same foods into one, so it can go through the check-out process faster
- To shield food from impurities in the cart, conveyor belt, and the trip home
The reasons are understood, but a plastic bag doesn’t have to be the be-all end all solution to this single-use epidemic.
The real solution starts at a macro picture.
Yes, plastic bags are a problem. Only 1 in 200 plastic bags are recycled. But there many other single-use plastics that are mindlessly disposed and can be easily avoided.
In order to change this, we need to shift from a linear economy to a circular economy. A circular economy follows the 3R approach: reduce, reuse and recycle. The growing zero waste movement is based on this idea.
In a macro level that we can implement everyday, the transition of values includes the way we shop for fresh and dry food. There’s a way we can bring home food sustainably, all the time, AND feel great about it.
And the best part? The execution is simple.
One of the key ideas in a circular economy is the art of reusing. Despite their name, plastic bags are reusable; but it is short-lived. They can only hold so much before tearing. Plus, recycling plastic bags can be a pain.
If well-meaning recyclers put them in with the rest of their bottles and cans, the bags can get tangled in the recycling equipment.
That not only way it slows down the process, it also puts workers in danger as they try to extract the bags manually.
Bringing your own reusable bags to the store is the best option for your health, to preserve our environment, to protect marine life that to often ingest litter, for workplace safety in our community, and for our future generations.
Here at Net Zero, we’ve been inspired by this message and wanted to bring reusables that can replace disposables for good. We want to spread a positive message and inspire a sustainable lifestyle to our present and future generations.
If you want to make a decision that will change your shopping habits for life, our cotton bags are a great alternative to the plastics at the grocery store.
Simply use the cotton net bags for your fruits and veggies. The cotton muslin bags are fabulous in the bulk section, holding a variety of foods such as flour, coffee beans, and breads. (PS. The tare weights are written on the colored tag, but they are lightweight to begin with!)
Simply throw them in the washing machine to clean. Click on an image above to view more.
Why? Because we want to be remembered for the things that we did while living on the planet and not for the trash that we left behind.