via NY Times
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Teenagers use them to sneak beer into concerts. Morning commuters sip juice from them. Vendors save on containers by slopping everything from salads to bulk shampoo into them.
This smog-choked metropolis of 20 million has a red hot love affair with the plastic bag, and it’s about to take on a shade of green. The government is banning stores from packing up goods in free, non-biodegradable bags as its latest environmental endeavor after adding bike lanes, low-emissions buses and an ambitious recycling program.
Major retailers already are responding, though the law passed in March and signed in August gives them a year to comply. […]
Mexico City joins San Francisco, New Delhi and a growing number of cities around the world restricting use of plastic bags, which the U.N. says are among the most pervasive types of ocean litter. Just producing the petroleum-based bags pumps tons of carbon emissions into the air.
The results of such bans have been mixed. Roughly two years later, a ban affecting large supermarket chains and pharmacies in San Francisco has cut plastic bag distribution by more than 50 percent, according to the city’s environment department. But a Seattle ban was challenged by the plastics industry in court and overturned last month in an industry-financed referendum. […]
The new law complements the city’s efforts to turn one of the planet’s biggest and messiest waste-management systems into the greenest in Latin America, if not the developing world. Mexico City only recycles about 6 percent of the 12,500 tons of trash it generates daily — but aims to compost or burn for energy 85 percent of it by 2013.
When this happens, Mexico City will be the second-largest city in the Western Hemisphere (after San Francisco) to ban plastic bags.
People who know me know how much I hate plastic bags. People use them without giving them a second thought. At the grocery store I used to go to in NY, it was customary for items to be double or triple bagged, regardless if they needed to be or not. Everything—even things with handles, like a jug of water—went into plastic bags. When I started working a retail job, I’d always ask customers with just a handful of items, “Do you need a bag?” More often than not, they’d say, “Yes. Well…no, I guess I don’t, huh?”
Needless to say, when I started sewing, the first thing I made was a humongous purple, paisley-print bag to carry groceries in. Seriously, the thing’s huge. I can fit about 3 plastic bags’ worth of groceries in there:
Then I attempted to make grocery bags from a pattern. This is Bag C from Butterick pattern #5338, and they’re the exact same as a regular plastic bag; you can hang them on the plastic bag rack at the grocery store and everything. I first made the strawberry bag, loved its usefulness, then made another one in the coffee bean fabric:
They fold into themselves, so it’s really easy to stash several into your purse (or pocket):
Next up, two more food bags in these fabrics:
I also made Bag B from the same pattern. They’re mesh bags with a drawstring that you can use for your produce. It’s all very nifty, and I can fit so much more in the bags without worrying about them ripping.
I can see the usefulness of plastic bags in certain situations (like if you buy a package of meat and it’s leaking bloody water…though I’m a vegetarian, so I don’t have that problem). I can also see how it’s more cost effective for some of the people in Mexico City to have shampoo/cream/etc. shoveled into a big plastic bag, rather than buy those items by the (plastic) bottle at the store. For the most part, however, we can all help to cut down on plastic bag use by a lot if we start using a couple of cloth bags whenever we shop.