Earth Day and Reusable Shopping Bags Go Together

April 22rd is Earth Day, and Earth Day is a great reason to start discussing more eco-friendly practices you can start with your own family, in your home.  Reusable shopping bags provide a great tool to enhance Earth Day activities that might be happening in your children’s school already.  We have come up with a few ways your children can focus on reducing, reusing and recycling by using reusable grocery bags as a tool for enhancing Earth Day activities.

To begin with, if you do not currently have any reusable grocery bags, the next time you go to the grocery store, count out how many plastic bags you use in just one grocery trip.  You can do some math with your children to see that if in one trip, you bring home 10 plastic bags, and you go grocery shopping once a week, in one month that is 40 bags, and in one year, that is 480 bags!  That doesn’t account for each convenience store run or retail store purchases.  How many houses are on your block?  How many houses in your town?  This is a great eye-opening discussion to have about waste while using some math skills to imagine what that many plastic bags looks like!

Next, take all those plastic bags you may have been collecting and bring them to your local Target store.  There are recycling bins in the front of each store that will take back any plastic bags you have, no matter which stores you have collected them from.  Although this is a healthy, environmental practice by Target, recycling bags is not the ultimate solution.  The best solution is to stop producing so much plastic as it costs more to recycle a plastic bag than it does to produce a new plastic bag.  Therfore, new bags are continually being manufactured and the recycled plastic bags are typically made into items that can never be recycled again, thus continually adding more plastic into the environment!

Make Your Own Reusable Shopping Bag

So what can you do?  Discuss options you may have for reducing all this waste.  If you do not have reusable grocery bags in your home, it’s fun and easy to make your own bags using old clothes you may be ready to donate to charity or throw away.  Have your kids go through their closets, with your supervision, and take out any old t-shirts, jeans, tank tops, and other clothing items that are worn out or no longer fit.  Not only will this clean out some of your closets, these items can be recycled into custom grocery bags!

Jeans, cotton shirts and shorts can all be cut and resewn into your own custom reusable bags.  You can even use old sheets and pillow cases.  The nice thing about recycling old material into something new is that it doesn’t cost anything as you are using items you already have!  Plus, it’s a fun way to spend time with your family in a creative and positive way.  Repurposeful has some great pattern ideas for you to use to start making your own bags using clothing you already have.

With each new bag that you make, you can even label them with “Meat”, “Produce”, “Dairy” and ” Cleaning Products”, so that you can keep your food items separated and safe in each bag.   You will want to make 2 sets, so that when one set is in the laundry, you will have another set available to use.

Donate Food to a Food Bank

After you have made all your fantastic, eco-friendly shopping bags, why not go through your kitchen pantry, dig out some food items to donate to your local Food Bank or other facility, and take the food items in your new, groovy reusable shopping bags.  Giving to people less fortunate is a wonderful lesson to teach your children as well.  It may also give them the secure feeling of knowing that if they ever find themselves in need, people in the community will come to their assistance as well.  Earth day activities using reusable shopping bags can really enhance the concept of reducing, reusing and recycling.

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