Sustainability Challenge: How old are your Ziploc bags?

01 Apr 2009|Dave Decelle

I was reading a National Geographic article entitled “Saving Energy Starts At Home” (March 2009, see story) that caused me to start looking at my own home and lifestyle and its impact on sustainability and climate change. The article follows three families’ attempts to cut their carbon emissions by 80% in one month. (According to some experts, an 80% decrease in carbon emissions is what’s necessary to curb climate change.) Despite best intentions, these families didn’t even come close to their target. But, hey, at least they’re on the path.

Anyway…since then I’ve been more aware of what my family does and doesn’t do to contribute to sustainability and energy conservation. I’d like to share one small moment of pride.

We regularly wash and re-use our ziplock bags. I used to tease my mother about being a cheapskate for doing this when I was just a kid. But now that I do it, it’s all about sustainability for the planet (oh, and it saves me a few dollars each year, too). So one evening I’m dutifully washing a few ziplock bags when I notice what was written on one of them with a sharpie pen – “honeymoon scrapbook photos.” You see, after we got married, my wife made some wedding albums for our parents and a honeymoon scrapbook for us, and she used ziplock bags to separate out which photos went with which album. Well, we got married in 2004. So that ziplock bag has been re-used in our home for 5 years now, and it’s still going strong.

If I think really hard about it, I can’t remember writing “ziplock bags” on our grocery list more than twice since we’ve been married. How many boxes of ziplock bags do you go through each year?

And, no, I haven’t weighed the impact of using all that water and soap to keep washing bags versus the carbon emissions to produce, package, ship, buy and dispose of new bags. But I gotta believe I’m on the right track.

Tip: Did you know that some grocery stores have a plastic bag recycling drop-off station? In fact, there’s a very sturdy bench outside the store that is 90% constructed out of recycled plastic bags. We all go to the grocery store every week. How easy would it be to save our plastic bags and bring them with us to the grocery store? Ask about it at your local grocery store.

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