Here on the island of Maui, single use plastic bags are outlawed in stores, which means that we have been bringing our own re-usable bags for years. There was a little bit of outrage at first, but mostly support for this ban. Living on a small island, it wasn’t hard to see the negative impact single use plastic shopping bags were having on our lives. They would blow out of the landfill and into the trees and fields around it then move on into the ocean.
The law seemed “radical” to many people who were used to receiving plastic shopping bags at the checkout. Every once in a while I still see a tourist who isn’t familiar with the law question or even get huffy with a cashier about it, but honestly, the law needed to be put into place. Why would someone get angry about not being given plastic bags? It seems like a silly reaction and an even sillier question, but on some level, I can understand why…1. They don’t live here, so there is little chance they have seen first hand the negative consequences plastic has on our island and ocean and 2. They have bought into the idea that living should be “convenient.” If you buy into that lie, you will inevitably be disappointed (and open yourself up for grown-up tantrums in public…haha).
But you know what? The switch to no plastic bags wasn’t really that hard. We were forced to get used to it, but in hindsight it wasn’t challenging. I actually don’t purchase bags at the checkout if I’ve forgotten mine. It really is NOT a big deal. I could make it a big deal in my head, but truly, it isn’t. It’s better than all of the plastic bags getting buried on our island forever at the landfill or flying into our clear waters and causing damage. We live very close to the consequences of our choices on an island. You do, too, no matter where you are in the world, it might just not be as in your face as it is on a small island chain.
I challenge you to stop using plastic bags and start bringing your own. It’s not a practice reserved for those of us who live on islands or just “crunchy” mamas, but one that ALL of us can benefit from. Repeat after me: it is not hard to bring my own bag to the store.
Choose an idea from the list below on how you can start ‘banning’ plastic bags in your own life. Write about which ideas speak to you and why, what roadblocks are keeping you from already doing this, and how you can get over the convenience factor and look deeper into the impact of your daily choices.
- Start bringing your own bags (I love the ones from Shark Pit Designs & Oneloa)
- Purchase your new favorite bag from a local artist or friend
- Move your bags from the closet to the car
- Offer yourself grace as you forget them a lot at first…and then keep trying. Practice will turn it into a habit
- Create a storage spot for your bags that is convenient and obvious (when things have “homes” it is easier to keep track of and find them)
- Give gifts in re-usable bags
- Refuse plastic bags at the checkout or ask for paper if you need a bag
- Stop and think each time someone asks you “Would you like a bag?” Really pause and consider if you truly need one
- Pretend that the ban already exists where you live and simply refuse plastic bags every time
- Make your own re-usable bags…use this challenge as a call to creativity
- Or come up with your own ideas!