Today I want to talk about reusable shopping bags and why you should consider using them for all your shopping and other out on the town needs.
If you search the great wide world of the internet you will find a lot of conflicting research done about the damage of single use plastic bags in the environment. Some people will say with compelling facts and figures that plastic bags are less harmful than paper bags or other reusable products. Others will say the exact opposite and use similar or even the same facts and figures to prove their point.
I say this because I honestly don’t know which version of the argument has more merit. What I do know or at least have some degree of confidence in is the following,
Where does this leave me?
What I know leaves me with the personal opinion that disposable plastic bags despite what some people say are worse for the environment than reusable or compostable bags. The facts that really sway me to the reusable bag side of the argument is the time of use and time that the bag sticks around for after its useful like is done. If you only use something for 12 minutes and then throw it in the garbage where it sits for the next 500 years that to me is much more damning than the reusable alternative.
Now that I have got my philosophizing out of the way I can get to the matter at hand and tell you more about the bags I sell in The Sustainable Like Shop.
What I like about the bags
There are a couple of things about the bag that I really like. One is its overall size and construction style. It’s big enough to hold a lot of things be they groceries, books, or supplies for a day at the beach. The handles are also integrated with the rest of the bag which eliminates one of the common points of failure on many reusable cloth bags. It also has a gusseted bottom which allows for easier filling and can let it stand up when full. This bag is also very light and can collapse down very small which makes for easier storage at home and in the pocket when heading to the store
What I don’t like about the bags
Probably the biggest thing I don’t like about the bags is that they are made of a synthetic fiber and not natural fiber While this is a durable and long-lasting fiber it is not ultimately very compostable when it’s useful like is done. However, since I will get lots of use out of this bag it is still better than disposable bags since it will get many uses by the end of its life.
The main takeaway I have for you on this subject is that you should always use a reusable bag whenever it is possible. By almost any reasonable assessment something you use for a long time is always better for the planet than something you only use for a little bit. Using a cloth bag like the ones I sell here are an important and easy step to living a more sustainable like into the future.
Today I will be offering my thoughts on the steel cups that I have for sale in The Sustainable Life Shop. The one thing I will say right off the bat is these are not your usual stainless steel cups. Far starters they are more expensive per cup than many others you can find out there but that extra cost means you are getting a lot more cup for your money.
What I like about the cups
I really like my rose gold cup…
It has become the defacto cup that I use for pretty much anything. It is suitable for holding both hot and cold liquids and does so while still remaining comfortable in the hand. The drinking edge is also nice and smooth with no sharp edges or that awkward rolled steel you see on many stainless steel cups that can hold onto water after you have washed them.
The weight of it is also very nice it feels like a real drinking glass in your hand versus what a plastic or even other stainless steel cups feels like in your hand. It is also incredibly easy to hand wash for those of us with large hands and is dishwasher safe to boot.
The last thing I like about it is its durability during life and the fact it can be 100% percent recycled over and over. You can’t do that even with high grade plastic cups. When they go through the recycling process it’s more like a downcycling process that leaves the plastic worse of every time it is recycled.
What I don’t like about the cups
I think the only real complaint I have about the cup is that multiples of them don’t stack as tightly as I would like. Now it could be because I am a hoarder of useful things and I don’t like to throw anything away that might be useful but I don’t have a lot of room on the cup shelf. So the fact that it is easier to store them separate from one another is kinda irritating. I know it’s a small complaint but I had to give you something right.
If you would like to buy one here is the link
So as part of my continuing series of blog posts on the products in The Sustainable Life Shop today I will be talking about the bamboo toothbrushes I have for sale in the store. The toothbrushes I have for sale consist of two parts: the bamboo handle and the nylon bristles. The handle portion is made of 100% bamboo which is a fast-growing member of the grass family, not wood as many people assume.
Bamboo is a widely growing plant that can be found across the world growing in tropical regions and some temperate mountain zones. It is a widely used material and can be found commonly in,
It is also one of the fastest growing land plants in the world and some species have been documented to grow as fast as 1 foot per day. When managed properly bamboo forests are a very sustainable source of raw materials to be used in many aspects of modern life.
Now it's time to talk about the bamboo toothbrushes that I have for sale in The Sustainable Life Shop.
What I like about them
The thing I like the most about these brushes of course is that they are mostly constructed of a 100% renewable and compostable material like bamboo. Typically toothbrushes these days are made entirely of plastic that can only be thrown away when the head wears out. These brushes give you the options to separate the head from the handle and compost what you can.
I also like how it feels in my hand when I am using the brush. The handle is actually on the small side being both thin and narrow but even with my large hands it is comfortable to hold and to use when I am brushing my teeth. The head is also fairly small consisting almost entirely of bristles for its bulk. It fits easily in the tight spots when I am brushing and doesn’t jab me in the gums or the back of the mouth.
What I don’t like about them
There are two things that slightly detract from these brushes. One being the fact that the bristles are made of nylon which is a non compostable synthetic fiber. You can find toothbrushes that have either natural hair bristles or bristles made from natural oils like these but they are usually fairly expensive per brush. I hope to one day be offering a 100% compostable toothbrush but sourcing them can be a challenge.
The second is the feel of the handle on the lips as you brush. To someone that has used plastic toothbrushes their entire life the bamboo can feel rough when it gets wet from the brushing. This is true of all wood or wood like products and it's not a bad thing it's just a weird feeling in the mouth.
Overall I have to say these toothbrushes will do their job and they do it well for being relatively cheap manual toothbrushes. While I don’t like the fact they have nylon bristles they do contain far less plastic than other toothbrushes and produce very little waste at the end of their useful lives.
If you would like to try them out here is the link
Other all natural toothbrushes
So here we are again it's the holiday season here in the USA and for a lot of the world. You start it off with the gluttonous feast of Thanksgiving, hit the peak of consumerism and waste for the year by Christmas and for many people the season is ended by staying up to late and getting hammered at some party to celebrate the beginning of a new year.
At least in a non Covid-19 year that is........
There is a disturbing trend out there in the world right now that that needs to be addressed.
The return of disposable plastics
If you look back over the last decade you can see a growing momentum of city, counties, and whole nations trying to limit the use of disposable plastic bags, straws cups, and other single use items. While the effectiveness of these bans can perhaps be questioned on how much plastic they save or trash they prevent. The important bit is what the plastic bans represent in the sentiments and ideas taking hold out in the world.
We as a global society were finally starting to see past the short-term gain and look at the long term picture. But then something happened, something that took our gaze from the future and yanked us roughly right back to the present.
I am of course talking about Covid-19.
The pandemic has taken us from the path of reusable bags and bring your own coffee mugs right back to single use plastic. The line we hear from everywhere it seems is that single use plastic is more sanitary and safer to use. But where is the data that backs up that theory?
It’s not there in fact the data that has been gathered about how long the virus sticks around on various materials has shown that it can live longer on plastics, stainless steel, and other hard impervious materials and it has a much shorter half-life in things like cardboard most likely fabrics.
So where is this assumption that plastic is safer and more sanitary coming from?
Fear and Propaganda.
We are all afraid of this thing and what it could do to us and our families and fear can make us lose all reason and drive irrational thinking and poor long-term choices. It is perfectly understandable that people are afraid, hell I am more than a little paranoid myself about a few things. But the fear that using items more than once makes them unclean and unsafe is simply not true. Items can be cleaned, they can be sanitized and they are as clean if not cleaner than you. So if you believe you are doing a good job with keeping yourself safe than your cloth bags and coffee tumblers are no more dangerous than you.
The propaganda is coming from an industry that was under attack from falling demand changing times as people around the world demanded products that were better for them and the planet we live on. They are trotting out the same message they have for the last half century that life is always better with plastic. In many ways they are right, the modern age would not be possible without plastic and the many advances it enabled us to make.
But plastic in its many forms is also a major polluter both during its manufacture and after it has been used. For a long time, we were willing to accept that pollution for all the benefits it gave us but lately, we have begun to wake up to the problems.
So fear and propaganda aside let's look at the idea that single use plastic bags are safer than cloth bags for use in the grocery store. First of all, people are under the mistaken impression that grocery store plastic bags are sterile and clean.
Think about that for a second….
They are manufactured in a factory, packed and shipped all over the place, and then finally unboxed and handled by many people and placed in a rack at the checkout. They then sit there and get exposed to the grocery store environment with all its people and their hands and breathing until they are finally used up.
If that sounds clean and sterile to you need to look in a dictionary.
Sterile- free from living organisms and especially pathogenic microorganisms
If you compare that to cloth reusable bags the chain of people touching them and how long they are in the grocery store is much less intimidating. Assuming you bag your own food no one but you touched your bag which cuts down on contact transmission. If you bring your own bags you also limit the time they are exposed to the environment in the store which again reduces contact time. Finally, unlike plastic bags your cloth bag can be washed, bleach or otherwise sanitized to your heart's content.
Try doing that with a plastic bag at the store....
The same principle can apply to any situation we were once again being coerced into using disposable plastic. When you really think about it is much safer for you to use stuff that is only exposed to you and your immediate environment, not something anyone can use at the store.
Thinking about the Future
I know the times are scary and stressful but we cannot let the immediate crisis take our eye off the ball that is global climate change. What can happen if we don’t start making drastic changes to the way humanity operates will make the pandemic look like a pothole on a road heading for a cliff. You shouldn't ignore the pothole but don't let it distract you from that pesky cliff coming up real fast.
So the moral of this story is don’t let fear control your actions, question all the propaganda you hear about how single use is better and use your brain to make good decisions
So here's the deal, plastic despite the many wonderful things we can do with it, is something that we need to change if we are to be able to develop a green sustainable society. Most if not all the plastics you use in your daily life are a fossil fuel derived plastics that are incapable of being recycled in the same way that metal, glass and other common materials can be.
Plastic on the other hand is a bit trickier when it comes to recycling. Plastic in the strictest sense cannot be recycled likes metal and glass and is instead put in a process called downcycling. Downcycling is a lot like recycling in that it breaks down and reuses a product but it differs in that there is a marked reduction in quality of the material recycled. For example a plastic water bottle is typically made from virgin plastic and carries a recycling label of 1. When that bottle is recycled the quality of the plastic is reduced and it bumps down in how and what it can be used for. Eventually the plastic is reused so many times that it becomes unusable and must be disposed of.
Hello my name is Josh Larson and I am the creator of the Green Living Library. Here on the blog you will find updates to content found in the Green Living Library as well as stories from those living the sustainable life already.