4 Sustainable Alternatives to Plastic Bags

It has been long known that plastic cannot be the future. The fabric takes several hundred years to degrade and wreaks massive havoc on the environment; especially the oceans and maritime creatures suffer from plastic litter. An average European uses around 500 plastic bags a year (Source)! Try to even imagine this, it’s more than one plastic bag thrown into the bin every day, and by one single person only!

“Those bags we pick up from the retailers are used for an incredibly short time, usually under 25 minutes, and are then disposed of. They may pass out of our thinking then, but they do not pass out of our world.“ (Source)

I hope you know me well enough to know that the environment is something I deeply care about, but you probably also know that I don’t like to be a constant moraliser. So instead of listing hundreds of facts why plastic is evil, I thought it’d be more useful for you if I talked about plastic bag alternatives. I know how it is, sometimes you just wanna get a few groceries on your way home and forgot to bring a bag, so you use this little plastic bag just this one time, right? I’m guilty of thinking like this myself, but once I realised this ‘one-time-excuse’ turns up way too often in my daily habits, I felt like I needed to change something.

So here are the alternatives I’m using now:

Fancy Textile Bags

Thanks to the modern hipster, the good old jute bag has become popular again. Basically, it’s almost made it back into mainstream, and that’s a good think! If you carry one of those textile bags with you, you’re very unlikely to use a plastic bag because you’ve got a bag already, right? Textile bags are my favourite alternative to plastic bags in fact. First and foremost, they’re very space-saving when put into a handbag or pocket, so you can carry one with you all the time easily, which makes spontaneous grocery shopping a joy! The bonus of these is that there are some really cool designs, they’ve actually become a fashion item! I love the fact that I can carry a political statement around so casually.

My Backpack

During the semester, you will never ever see me go anywhere without my backpack. Having to carry around a laptop, dance shoes and a lunch box every day, there’s simply no alternative to that. I’ve tried all kinds of bags, but the only thing that doesn’t kill my back is a backpack. Now of course it’s mostly stuffed with uni stuff and dance clothes, but I can always fit in a few vegetables or bread whenever I buy some groceries on the way home. This one’s a dark blue Herschel model. It’s extremely comfortable to carry, looks good on both men and women and provides a lot of space. So basically, it fulfils all my backpack needs. What I love about backpacks is that you can personalise them with lots of pins and pendants.

Reusable Plastic Bags

I know, these are still plastic, but you can use them for several years! On the rare occasion of me having a bigger-than-usual shopping list, I usually opt for one of my reusable plastic bags. I’m not sure about other countries, but in Switzerland, you can get pretty big, reusable plastic bags for just a few Euros at every retail store (they look a bit like the massive blue bags from Ikea). These consist of a strong plastic fabric and textile handles that will allow reusage over many many years! As I said earlier, the plastic bags being disposed of after roughly 25 minutes of use is one of the core problems about plastic bag. If people kept them at home and used them over and over again, the bigger picture would look different. So if it absolutely needs to be plastic for you, at least go for a reusable bag.

Paper Bags

These are my last alternative for whenever I forgot to bring my bag. Most retailers in Switzerland sell rather big paper bags that are stable enough to be reused or that can at least be recycled. On a rainy day, these might not be the best choice, but usually they do the job for me.

I hope that International Plastic Bag Free Day will make a huge positive impact, so that we can fully abandon plastic eventually! My friend Milly’s got another post about some easy ways to include recycling into your daily habits, so if you want to change something, visit Sevenseasaway.

Also I’d love to hear about your favourite plastic bag alternatives.

Enjoy the sunny weather!

This article originally appeared on www.stepabout.me