Plastic Bags vs Reusable Bags

Note: A low impact lifestyle should be accessible to everyone. You can follow the advice of this post for just a couple of dollars or even for free. Read to the end for more details.

The movement to be more eco-friendly is covered in signs to recycle, that it is the answer and if you recycle, everything is okay. Plastic is made of nonrenewable resources, and it does not safely break down. All plastic ever made still exists, even if we can’t see it. (#1) When I learned that fact a couple years ago, it changed the way I see disposable items. We use something for a very short time before throwing it away, and that thing is damaging on the planet and it adds up.

When plastic breaks down, it’s really just falling apart into smaller pieces, which are called microplastics (#2). It’s easy for microplastics to enter the food chain at the bottom and work their way up, not only to other wildlife, but to humans. (#3) Plastic can only be recycled a few times before it’s complete trash. Simply recycling isn’t going to change the fast growing problem. When it is recycled, it has to be combined with new plastic, and putting it into a recycling bin doesn’t mean it’s actually going to get recycled. A lot of plastic ends up in the ocean whether your intention was to recycle or not (#7).

Part of the solution is to quit single-use plastic bags (and other single-use plastics, which I will discuss in another post, or you can get more info here: (#8)(#9)). I vowed to stop using disposable grocery bags in winter of 2016.

Now that you know why bringing your own bag is better for the planet, here are a few reasons it’s better for you.

1. Disposable bags are flimsy. You have to be really careful so they don’t break, either from a pointy item, or too much weight, or even just the general integrity of the bag. They don’t hold much. With a nice reusable bag- no more worrying that you put too much in it or being super careful not to bump it on anything. Your reusable bag can handle it.

I’ve found it especially amazing if you live in an apartment or have to carry groceries up stairs. You can make fewer trips without the worry of your bags snapping.

2. In some stores, you’ll actually get a discount for bringing your own bag(s)! Stores have to buy all those plastic bags, so the cost is factored into the prices of what the store sells. If everyone brought their own bags, the prices of things could drop a little since stores wouldn’t have to by them anymore.

3. They look so much nicer! I know, not everyone cares about this one, but if you fill your collection with bags you like, you’ll be happy to use them. You don’t need to be picky when grabbing one on the way out of the house, but some days I enjoy choosing one that goes with my outfit or makes me smile.

Have a hard time remembering your bags?

These posts by City of Edmonds (#4) and The News Tribune in Tacoma (#5) offer some tips for making a habit of bringing your bags. Once you form the habit, it takes no extra effort.

One of the methods I use is if I don’t bring a bag, I carry everything I buy. It’s helped me to remember, because it’s not fun carrying your groceries by hand!

Where do you get these amazing reusbale bags?

You can find reusable bags pretty much everywhere nowadays, but I’ve found that a lot of them are really bad quality and will break after some use. The ones I have good luck with are canvas, burlap, t-shirt bags, and tote bags. (I also really love BlueQ bags, if you see them around, check em out. They’re the ones I get excited to carry around.)

You can also make your own! No matter your crafting skill level, you can make bags. I love the simple ones you can make with old t-shirts or other upcycled things. I made a whole Pinterest board with tutorials and ideas for you to check out (#6).

You don’t need to spend much to start your collection of reusable bags. Check your closet for t-shirts you don’t wear or find some at the thrift store. You can turn them into nice bags in minutes, no skills required. Also, be sure to check the bags section of your local thrift store.

Post a picture of your reusable bags and tag me on Instagram (@amberthest) or Facebook (

To see my collection and a tutorial for the easiest (and cheapest) DIY shopping bag, here's a video: Bag Collection and Easiest Shopping Bag Tutorial

(Photo Description: A few of my shopping bags, a tote bag, a burlap bag, two t shirt bags, and a couple I got for free)

For more on reducing waste without spending much money at all, check out my last blog post Putting Together a "Zero Waste" Kit (Super Cheap and Easy).

#plasticpollution #reducewaste #greenlife #dreaminggreen #lowimpact #thelowimpactmovement #plastic #microplastic #plasticbags #reusablebags

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