#LessPlastic Challenge Week 2 – Plastic Shopping Bags

Plastic shopping bags are standard no matter where you shop.  These bags are destroying our environment and leaving the land and sea littered with toxic debris that can take 15-1,000 years to decompose.  It is estimated that 160,000 plastic bags are used EVERY SECOND all around the world.  These bags account for approx. 10% of the pollution washed up on US coastlines.  Statistics like that should scare you into changing your plastic-addicted ways!

Paper bags aren’t much better.  They’re still widely a single-use item, and only about 20% of the paper bags used are recycled, despite the fact they are highly recyclable.  They also take a considerable amount of energy and resources to produce which makes it hard to justify it as a more environmentally-friendly alternative to plastic.

If plastic and paper are out, what is a consumer to do?  Switch to reusable shopping totes!  These bags can survive months to years of continual use, and once you make the change, it isn’t any more difficult than shopping before you switched.


I personally made the switch in 2017.  As a mom with little kids and a busy household, we came to a point where we were literally running out of everything; milk, toilet paper, laundry detergent, bread, pet food, butter.  It was the product of not having time to hit the store the week before, and it seemed like I would never have time to get to the store again.  By the time I left the checkout lane, I had a heaping cart full of all the things it takes to make lunches, dinners, snacks, clean the house, care for the pets and get everyone cleaned up for about 2 weeks.  I came home and started putting everything away, and the end result was plastic bags filled with more plastic bags and I didn’t even have enough room to stash them under my cupboard like I normally would.  I held on to these bags for months before I finally remembered to take them to the bag recycling bin at the grocery store.

I decided then that I would sign up for a recycling service through my trash company.  I was feeling pretty good about that until the recycle bin came with a list of accepted items and in large red letters, it stated NO PLASTIC BAGS.  While I was able to recycle a lot of other things, this did not solve my plastic bag crisis!  That is when I switched.  I take them everywhere and leave them in my trunk.  I have used them for giant shopping trips at Meijer and Walmart, and I’ve used them for smaller runs to Harding’s or Walgreen’s.  I even purchased an insulated bag from Gordon Food Service for frozen items, and I have found myself distraught when I accidentally leave my “favorite” bag at home.

You can do this.  You NEED to do this.  It’s too late to remove the plastic bags from landfills now, but we can absolutely make sure that less is put in.  Here are some links to even scarier stats that you should make the time to read up on:


#LessPlastic Challenge Week 1

A few weeks ago I announced that KHS was challenging itself and all of its users to use #lessplastic.  Each Wednesday through the end of the year we want to focus on information about how plastics are destroying our planet and how we can all start adjusting our daily routines to use less of it.  It was bold (and possibly not thought out very well) to launch such an ambitious PSA campaign in the weeks leading up to the Dog Walk & K-9 Festival, and so we’re going to officially start our #lessplastic Wednesday themes today!

Let’s kick this thing off by talking about straws!  Such a simple thing, really, but they’re the source of a massive environmental problem that we should all be concerned about.

There is a significant international campaign going on right now to #DitchTheStraw.  This movement is being spearheaded by The Last Plastic Straw, which is a project of the Plastic Pollution Coalition.  From the Plastic Pollution Coalition website:

Over 500,000,000 plastic straws are used each day in the United States. In only the past twenty years, people have come to expect plastic straws in every drink, in an example of extreme waste being generated for minimal convenience. These short-lived tools are usually dropped into a garbage can with no further thought, instantly becoming a source of plastic pollution.

You can make a considerable impact by refusing the straw!  It’s easy, and once it becomes a habit, you’ll never give it a second thought.  Step 1, order your drinks #strawfree.  Step 2, drink from the cup.  Little changes like this can make an enormous difference, and encouraging others to follow your example will lead to more and more people who are happy to #refusethestraw.

Last week Sarah, our Volunteer Coordinator, and I went to Noodles & Co, and we both successfully drank beverages without a straw.  It took 0% extra effort, and we got all the feel-goods for sticking to our #lessplatic resolution!

Straw Free Lunch Meeting

Julie and Sarah of the Kalamazoo Humane Society enjoy drinks at Noodles & Co straw free!

You can take a pledge to commit yourself to making the lifestyle change that will help stop plastic waste at the Plastic Pollution Coalition website here –> http://www.plasticpollutioncoalition.org/no-straw-please/

KHS Blog Authors

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