A good example of the first principle of zero waste, Refuse, is to avoid shopping bags. This is obvious. However, I’d like to share my current situation.
I messed up when I picked up my print order at Staples. I became absent minded and took the bag with me. I should have taken the pages out and left the bag with the salespeople. The pages I printed were sensitive and needed to be protected from dirt and wrinkling, but I could have brought a file folder and transferred them to it for protection. My head was elsewhere, I was rushed. Excuse, excuse, excuse.
So, I get back to my office and discover that I can’t just toss this bag into the recycling. As you can see from the picture, I need to deliver it to a participating Staples store for recycling. I’m not planning another Staples trip any time soon, and making a special trip to Staples would cancel out my recycling efforts. So, it’s either going to sit on my desk for 6 months or I’m going to throw it in the trash during my next desk-clearing fit. I need another option.
I have worms (well, really, my husband has worms). The most effective way for me to reuse this bag is to shred it and turn it into bedding for the worm bin. The details on the back tell me it’s suitable for worm bin use, since it’s chlorine-free and nontoxic.
If I stumble in pursuit of my zero wasting aspirations and fail to bring reusable grocery bags, I will get the paper grocery bags for this purpose as well. It’s always nice to have this possibility to fall back on, but it’s always best to be able to refuse in the first place.
What do you do with your accidental disposable shopping bags? There are endless possibilities.