A simple idea to reduce plastic waste

In my country, you pay for your plastic bags at the supermarket. Typically about 2-3 kroner (50 US cents). The effect is that a fair number of people, myself included, reuse plastic bags many times, which is a good thing.



But every so often I end up at the supermarket without any spare bags, either because I forgot, or because I hadn’t planned to go shopping, so I end up buying new plastic bags, even though I have plenty at home. This happens often enough that I routinely have to purge my collection of plastic bags, throw them out, because there’s just too many. They last pretty long, after all.



Wouldn’t it be even better for the environment if instead of throwing them out, I could bring all my used plastic bags to the supermarket, and other people could use them when they’d forgotten their own plastic bags, and without paying for them? Why not share bags among all?



Unless, of course, the supermarkets think it would be ugly or disgusting, or they actually enjoy the revenue they’re making from plastic bags currently?



A silly, small thought, I know, but one that I had, nonetheless.

10 comments

According to <a href="http://www.madgal.dk/news/news.asp?id=1246">this</a> article, the danes spend an estimate of 700 million kr on plasticbags every year. Furthermore it states that plasticbags actually is one of the most profitable items they sell in the supermarkets ... I think they enjoy the revenue they're making. But keep thinking. Maybe next time ... :-)
By Søren K on Fri, May 11, 07 at 15:18 · Reply
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We used to live in Broughton Street, Edinburgh, where there was a shop called Realfoods (check it out if you're there!). In Realfoods, next to the check-out counters, there were bags of recycled plastic bags from all manner of shops, so you could help yourself, or drop off couple of your own. I think it's a matter of embarrassing the supermarkets to the point where it becomes too much negative publicity, then they act. Very rarely before. In terms of what to do, I think paying for bags, free used bags, and being able to deliver old bags for recycling or others to use are all good options on their own or in combination.
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Legislation could force supermarkets to buy back used plastic bags, just as with bottles.
By Branimir Dolički on Fri, May 11, 07 at 15:18 · Reply
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Legislation could force supermarkets to buy back used plastic bags, just as with bottles.
By Branimir Dolički on Fri, May 11, 07 at 15:18 · Reply
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It is worth noting that the quality of the plastic bags in Denmark is very high, especially compared to the bags you get in the US. Over here the bags are of such poor quality, that they most often are not reuseable at all. Add to that the supermarkets have a tendency to pack only very few items in each bag, because they are so thin. Perhaps people would use less bags, if they had to pack their own groceries, like you have to in DK.
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I use all the plastic supermarket bags for my own waste... what do you use for your waste?
By álvaro on Fri, May 11, 07 at 15:18 · Reply
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In Holland quite a number of supermarket already have a 'plastic bag share point', it is not the success they hoped for. But it is used by a number of people.
By Chris Obdam on Fri, May 11, 07 at 15:18 · Reply
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It's a fairly common practice be able to drop off your bags for reuse at "co-ops" or health food stores in the States. You may want to look into alternative stores that are more "green" in their practices. I have a feeling the same sort of stores commonly do it here in New Zealand, too. However, a hell of a lot of people buy cloth bags for their groceries and re-use them instead. Personally, I reuse my plastic bags for grouping my recycling items. Hopefuly they stand out of the landfill as a result. I used to use them for picking up after my dog, but I now purchase biodegradable bags for that. Cheers, Walter
By Walter McGinnis on Fri, May 11, 07 at 15:18 · Reply
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By Lars Pind on Fri, May 11, 07 at 15:18 · Reply
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Danish supermarket chain Irma replies to mail with link to this entry: "" Kære Morten Frederiksen Vi har med tak modtaget din mail af den 19. maj '07, vedr. plastikposer. Først og fremmest tak for et inspirerende link, i denne tid hvor der er stor fokus på miljø og genbrug. Dog har vi pt. ikke planer om at indføre et sådan koncept omkring plastikposer ! Tak for interessen som du har vist Irma ! Med venlig hilsen Irma AS "" Short translation: Inspiring, but we have no plans going in that direction.
By Morten Frederiksen on Fri, May 11, 07 at 15:18 · Reply
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