Ok, I’m stretching my skills in the analogy department. I want to talk about bags, and less plastic, and the gifting economy, and tying it all together. A couple of posts ago I was musing on how I could take my personal actions more public. I’ve also spent a lot of time thinking about ways to reduce the disposable materials associated with everyday activities like trips to the grocery store (Actions 49, 70, 72), which can be quite an exercise in the accumulation of plastic, which supports the cycle of materials tied to the production of plastic, which in turn has repercussions for our climate or our food chains or our own health.
Ive recently been reading “Plastic Free: how I kicked the plastic habit and how you can too” by Beth Terry (check out her website MyPlasticFreeLife.com). Terry’s book is inspirational for the range of activists and ideas for moving responsibly away from a disposable lifestyle to one in which we are much more conscious of our choices about materials and how they affect our health and environment. Im still in the early chapters, but she starts with an extensive discussion of plastic bags and how important it is to shift our thinking and actions away from grabbing that plastic bag at the grocery store towards being prepared with our own bags and containers. It is such a small thing, such a tiny action, does it really matter? I think it does: as I’ve talked about before, we use about 60,000 plastic bags in this country every 5 seconds, to the tune of 12 million barrels of oil a year. That is a lot of fossil fuel for something that has an average active life of a few minutes.
The other thing I’ve been spending time on recently is our local facebook group Buy Nothing (Action 76), which is a gifting economy where people can post items they are giving away or ask for things they need, all without compensation. Its been a wonderful experience not only for the fun and useful things Ive found (spice bottles for storing dried herbs from my garden, a halloween costume, building materials) and given away (clothes we’ve outgrown, extra office supplies, compost for someone else’s chicken feeding needs) but also the community it has built, of meeting new people and attending impromptu pot lucks inspired by somebody’s creation of blackberry wine from a community blackberry harvesting effort.
So putting these two things together with a dash of moving my behavioral changes beyond myself to outreach to others, mixed with a serving of the need to occasionally dust off my sewing machine, I’m making produce bags to share.
Several months ago I spent too much money on a set of organic cotton produce bags online, and then I thought, geez, I could make these!These things are great because they take just a few minutes to put together from scraps of fabric and ribbon I have lying around from my quilting and sewing hobbies. Make a rectangle, add a drawstring, and voila! You’ve got a great non-plastic alternative to the produce or bulk food bag that you can stick in the wash after use and reuse and reuse. Once I made some for myself, I decided it would be great to take the next step and offer these out to the community, so I’ve made it a goal to make at least 10 sets of 3 bags each to give away to my Buy Nothing buddies. I think it would be so fun, and good for the climate cause, to be walking around the store and see my produce bags being put to use!