How to Keep 10,000 Plastic Bags out of Landfills by doing Nothing

posted by Russ, October 12 in environment, sustainability with tags , , , ,

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I consider myself to be a pretty eco minded person, I wouldn’t go so far as too say I’m extreme when it comes to conservation and minimizing waste, but I do exert a fair amount of effort to try to minimize my impact, especially when it comes to over consumption and blatant waste. And I certainly would consider our (Americans) use of plastic a blatant waste.

For my part, I always bring my reusable bags when I go shopping, and I even go so far as to use an empty bread loaf bag to pick up dog poop rather than throw it out unused. These days when I make my lunch I reuse one ziplock bag for several weeks, rather than dispose of it daily, and I also use a tupperware to pack my sandwich and vegetables. Right there, assuming that I make lunch 3 days (and eat out 2) per week, multiplied over 49 weeks (52 minus a measly 3 for vacation), that would ordinarily be 294 bags if I used one for chips or snack, and one for sandwich. But typically I reuse one bag for three or four weeks in a row before it becomes too nasty, and my use of a tupperware removes the need for half of them right away. So that puts me down to only 37 per year for 147 days of lunch. Not great, but a significant reduction from average.

But we all know that you can be the most efficient person in the world, and it’s just a drop in the bucket compared to the waste of a business. So I now have a way to save another 245 plastic bags per year by doing nothing. How do I do this? I realized a year or so ago that the cleaning people swap out the bag in the trashcan at my desk if there is anything it.

So the solution? It’s simple. I bring my trash to the office kitchen to dispose of it. And just like that, I don’t use my trash can and they don’t change the bag. (I’ve experimented to ensure that this is the case.) Just like that 245 bags removed from the landfill.

So above and beyond the hundreds (likely thousands) of plastic bags I save per year by carrying my reusable shopping bags and implementing these simple strategies, I now can include another 500 bags (a low estimate combining lunch and work strategy) that I am saving from our landfills.

If every person made these three simple adjustments, we could save hundreds of thousands (probably millions) of plastic bags from the landfills. Even at a small company of 20 people, these three virtually unnoticeable lifestyle changes would save 10,000 bags from our landfills over one year.

As you can see, making a difference is not that hard.

Originally posted on Monday, October 12th, 2009 at 6:23 AM .

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