Green family part 2: Saying no to plastic bags
Our Green Family series help parents to get their heads around what South African families can do to recycle, save water, reduce pollution, change our diets and leave the world a better place for our children.
The war on plastic (Parent24)
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Welcome back, green parent.

This time around, we're discussing the war on plastic, specifically plastic bags, which is one of the leading global polluters.

We are increasingly being encouraged to stop using these pesky little packets, yet it seems many families still mindlessly agree to buy to carry their groceries. 

Saying "yes" to "would you like a bag?" could sometimes be such a knee-jerk reaction, but now more than ever, it's time for a change.


Does your family make use of any alternative methods to plastic shopping bags? Send us your comments  and we could publish them. Do let us know if you'd like to remain anonymous. 

Also see: Recycling made easy


Firstly, let's make an attitude change 

Saying no to one plastic packet is not going to end global pollution (obviously), but if lots of people made a small difference and tried their best, all those little differences will add up to a big difference. A change is a change, no matter how small.

This is something I firmly believe in.

Sadly, so many people have the "why should I?" attitude when it comes to making a difference because they don't think it will be significant. 

It's time we decide that as families, we will do our best for the greater good. 

Although pollution is a negative situation, having a negative attitude towards it won't combat anything. 

What's the issue here?

The waste humans accumulate on land finds its way into our oceans, causing nothing but havoc. 

Plastic packets contribute to this at an alarming rate. They are non-recyclable and therefore cannot be decomposed.

Marine life suffers since they unknowingly consume the packets, choke and die. If they're not consuming it, they're being affected by the harmful chemicals found in plastic. 

Don't care about marine life? Well, it has a negative effect on human health too since we consume fish and all the harmful substances that come with it.   

Let's look at the stats

Certain countries have bans against plastic bags, some are working towards it and others have no laws against plastic bags at all. 

The diagram below shows the verdict on plastic bags in the various countries: 

"Phase-out lightweight plastic bags" is a global movement implemented to rid the Earth of plastic bags, essentially minimising overall waste and creating a safer and cleaner environment for everyone.  

As you can tell by the diagram (and most likely already know), our country still charges for plastic bags, but hopefully banning is on the horizon.


Also see: 18 eco-friendly kids party ideas for the coolest parents on the block 

And: Green family: 5 ways to get your kids excited about recycling 


Some alternatives to plastic bags:

Here are some other things you should try using instead of plastic bags:

1. Canvas or cotton shoppers

Grocery stores such as Woolworths have started phasing out the use of plastic bags and plan to be completely rid of them by 2020, selling reusable shopping bags instead. Many grocery stores sell these bags and you can find fashionable ones at places such as Cotton On or Factorie for quite an affordable price.

Pick n Pay uses compostable plastic bags and sells reusable shopping bags too. You could also find them on Takealot.  

In a country that charges for every plastic bag, you'll be able to reuse bags of your own and save on all those little costs every time. Plus, reusable bags are generally bigger, which means less trips carrying items to and from the car boot!

2. A basket 

Baskets are cute, right? If you're going for the minimalist hipster aesthetic, look no further.

3. A box

Food Lover's Market, eat your heart out.

4. Your hands

Carry items in one by one if you have to!

5. Your kids

Only have one kid? Make some more and you'll have your own little grocery carriers!

Jokes aside, use whatever you can but avoid plastic. 

Chat back 

Does your family make use of any alternative methods to plastic shopping bags? Send us your comments and we could publish them. Do let us know if you'd like to remain anonymous. 

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Read more: 

Does having children make us care more about the environment?

Water crisis: cloth vs disposable nappies

Help your child fall in love with nature

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