Why it’s time to decline plastic bags
Have you ever received unnecessary plastic bags before? A staggering 160,000 plastic bags are used globally every second. It’s vital to form a habit to actively decline plastic bags. Otherwise, even if you have a reusable bag with you, you might end up with a cheeky bit of plastic packaging that you don’t need.
Decline plastic bags at the convenience store
Employees are often trained to put customer’s items in plastic bags as a courtesy. This happens even when it’s just one or two items that you could easily carry in your hands. Your goal is to catch this before it happens. I always step up to the counter, say hello to the cashier, and immediately politely let them know that I don’t need a plastic bag. I tell them I will just carry it out or put it in my reusable bag. The employees don’t care and I save a bit of plastic! Is there a way for you to incorporate this with your local convenience store?
Decline plastic bags at restaurants
Another common situation we run into is at restaurants. For many restauranteurs, handing out plastic bags is a habit or company practice. It’s the social norm, even on items you could easily carry. This is where you can start to take notice of these patterns and make a big impact. It is especially common with takeaway food. For example, I love to get takeaway falafel wraps. It comes wrapped in aluminium foil, then placed in a plastic bag to be given to me. I now ask the employees to just give me the wrap in the foil and skip the bag. It’s easy to politely ask for this change in a standard policy, and the employees there don’t mind at all.
Are there any takeaway restaurants you frequent where you can put this into effect? If you are visiting a restaurant for the first time, this can’t always be avoided. Once you learn their practices, you can begin to easily request to be given your food in the takeaway container with no bag.
If you want to take it a step further, you can bring your own takeaway containers to restaurants. If you’re dining in but you know you don’t usually finish your food, plan ahead! For example, you might stash a stainless steel reusable container in your car or bag for when you’ll need it later. I particularly like this one.
Other ways to help
Want to do more? It’s great to change your daily habits, but you can amplify your voice by working with others. Add your name to a petition for banning plastic bags. You’ll want to do a bit of research about the petition before signing. For more guidance on that, check out my blog on plastic pollution petitions here.
Be sure to always come prepared. I love this reusable bag from Mamoq – they focus on slow fashion, and the bag itself is fair trade. This Turtle bag is made of natural fibre, Jute. It is also made in Bangladesh as part of a women’s empowerment programme. Another great option is this organic cotton tote. Finally, if you know you’re popping into the store for some fresh produce, a great net bag is a must.
As you begin to say no to the plastic bags, you’re changing the norm. The more people that do this, the more that employees will be inclined to ask if you want a bag before assuming. Keep a keen eye out for opportunities to decline plastic bags and break out of the automatic patterns we live in.
Leave a comment below and let me know what plastic bags you’re committing to declining! If you’ve found this blog helpful, you can support me and the site by buying me a cup of tea or sharing the site with a friend. Your support means the world to me!