This is one I’ve been doing for a long time. I have several reusable bags in the boot of my car and have been using them for years. However, it’s important to note that it requires more energy and creates more emissions to make reusable bags than it does plastic ones; so once you purchase reusable alternatives, use them for as long as you can. They’re generally durable and long-lasting, making them more eco-friendly provided you use them for years.
I take issue with stores that don’t have the option to purchase plastic grocery bags. If you forget yours, you’re forced to buy the reusable ones and if you have to do that every time, it’ll have more of a negative environmental impact than buying plastic ones every time. And it’ll cost you lots more too!
In addition to the reusable bags in my car, I keep one in my bag so that I’m not forced to buy new ones. There’s also no need to buy them from the store. Make your own or use the bags and totes you already have in your home.
If I do buy plastic grocery bags I always reuse them, mostly to throw out my trash into the large municipal bins. Always dispose of your plastic grocery bags properly, so that you don’t contribute to litter and pollution like that pretentious ponce in American Beauty.
Major grocery retailers in South Africa don’t offer paper bags, but you sometimes get them from restaurants and smaller stores. Paper bags also have a greater environmental impact when it comes to manufacturing. However, they can be recycled or composted, provided they’re not contaminated (by greasy food, for example); and they can be reused, again provided they’re not contaminated or disintegrated from carrying wet or frozen items.
Zero waste tip:
Carry reusable bags and use them for years. Refrain from buying new ones unnecessarily.