Friday, Feb 11, 2022 – Plastic Bags and Other Soft Plastics, What To Do About Them

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Plastic Shopping Bags

With nearly 2 Million plastic shopping bags used EVERY MINUTE it’s pretty important we find ways to reduce using them. Here’s a great way to do that.

  • Reusable shopping bags – I know, I know, it’s hard to remember to take them. Try this:
    • Put shopping bags on your grocery list to remind you. Most of us usually look at our list before heading to the store.
    • Keep them in your car. Make it a habit to put them back in your car once they’re emptied, and don’t be lazy and say screw it if you get in the store and find you left them behind. The planet needs you to go back to your car and get them.
    • Buy the compact kind. I carry Baggu Bags and Chico Bags in my purse. These durable shopping bags are easy to fold up and put in a pocket or purse and last a really long time. I’ve had mine for over ten years and use them for all my shopping needs, not just groceries. And they hold a lot of stuff.

How to Recycle Soft Plastics and Reduce Using Them

Soft plastics include shopping bags, trash bags, packaging, food baggies, and food wraps. None of these can go in your home recycling. But the shopping bags and some packaging can be recycled at stores.

  • Plastic shopping bags and some similar weight soft plastics like packaging can be dropped off at store collection bins. Stores like Target, Home Depot, and most major grocery chains have bins for these in their entryways. Take a plastic bag and start filling it with other bags and packaging wraps, then drop it off when it’s full. 
    • Legislation to stop the damage of plastic bags has created a demand for them to be recycled, so this is starting to become available. But in the end, they’ll all end up in our oceans and landfills so we have to reduce using them. They cannot be recycled into something else other than more plastic bags.
  • Sandwich baggies, zip close bags, and food wraps are convenient and used a lot in our lives. While it can be hard to eliminate the use of these (more tips on eliminating these in a future post). 
    • These all go in the trash, so wash and reuse them as much as possible. I buy a new box of food storage baggies about once a year because I reuse them over and over.
  • Buy in bulk whenever possible. This not only saves money but also reduces the amount of plastic packaging produced.
Photo by Anna Shvets on

Why It’s Important

Curbside, residential, and even commercial recycling programs do not take plastic bags or soft plastics. Here’s why.

  • Soft plastics are not a strong enough material to recycle into something else. Only harder single use plastics can be recycled and those are often downcycled – not made into the same thing or something that can be recycled again. 
    • Too often I see people putting recyclable items into plastic trash bags. If you put your recycling out in a plastic bag it will end up in a landfill.
  • Every type of plastic is different so each needs its own process in order to be recycled. It’s like the difference between aluminum and glass, they can’t be recycled together. This is why more than 90% of plastics have not been recycled. The fact is, the infrastructure has only been in place to recycle mostly #1 and #2 plastics. The rest have gone in the landfills and oceans.
  • Plastics do not disintegrate. Some can take hundreds of years to break down and when they do they become microplastics that end up in our water and food supply. 
  • Soft plastics, like shopping bags, are especially bad because they fly around and get in our waterways easier causing death to a lot of marine life. It is expected that plastics in the oceans will outweigh fish by 2050 at the rate they are growing.

Though we’ve been putting plastics in our recycling bins for more than a few decades, they mostly have not been recycled. The softer they are the harder it is for this to be accomplished. So it’s really important we are all working to reduce how much we use, for a lot more reasons than what I’ve listed above. 

With Much Gratitude

That’s it for this week. I hope this helped. Please drop me a line anytime if you have questions or comments. I love hearing from you.

Note: Along with a number of very hard-working people, I’m waging an all-out war. A fight for our planet. Please join me and consider supporting my efforts. I do not get paid to write this blog so any support you can send my way would help, even just a few bucks.

Thank you for reading these tips and subscribing. 

All my best, 


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