#Totewiser

It’s human nature for us to choose the path we’re most familiar with which is why adopting a new habit can be quite a challenge. We understand that it’s easy to forget your reusable tote bag sometimes, or to forget what to do with it when you’re done using it. Here are some general tips on how to remember your tote and how to take care of them to help sustain your new endeavour – but also to make the use of tote bags feel more effortless!

1. Purchase ultra compact reusable bags that you can easily slip into your pocket or bag so you never forget them.

2. Put your reusable bags on the counter before any of the things you’re buying so that the cashier knows to put your items in these bags instead of automatically bagging using plastic bags

3. Hand or machine wash your tote bags regularly. This kills about 99% of the bacteria accumulated by them. The great thing is canvas, burlap or cotton bags are all washable.

4. If you’ve used reusable bags to transport non-food items like washing detergent, cleaners or other chemicals, make sure you wash them before re-using it to transport food items. Alternatively, you can use different coloured bags for different purposes. Owning two totes is better than opting for a plastic bag.

5. Storing reusable tote bags in the trunk of your car is actually not a good idea because in the warmer months the increased temperatures can promote bacteria growth on your bags.

6. You should place your meat, poultry and fish in a separate reusable bag to your fresh produce to avoid contamination

7. If you want to carry frozen things, consider lining your reusable bags with waxed butcher paper

8. When you’re trying to enforce the habit, maybe try hanging your tote bag on the same shoulder as your purse so that you don’t forget when you get up to the counter!

These are a few tips we think would help. If you’re looking for some more great tips, one of the best we found our tips from was Small Footprint Family

Share with us what you do to remember your reusable bags – or how you keep ’em clean!

 

Plastic bags or Paper bags?

Image: Green Retreat Org

The answer is neither.

Many people are under the impression that replacing the use of plastic bags with paper bags is doing the environment a favour, but when we take a closer look it’s actually not the case.

Here’s some reasons why using paper bags is not a better alternative:

  • In the US alone, over 14 million trees are cut down to fulfil the demand for the production of paper bags
  • Paper bags cause pollution when they’re produced. In fact they emit 70% more air pollution and 50% more water pollution than the production of plastic bags
  • Paper bag production also consumes a great amount of energy and fuel – four times as much as plastic bag production to be precise
  • Paper also doesn’t biodegrade that much faster than plastic and despite their high recyclability factor, only 20% of paper bags are recycled

Want to know more about the truth behind paper bags? Here’s a great TED talk on the topic

Right about now you’re probably wandering what the solution is, whether there’s even any option left. After all, you thought reducing your plastic foot print by opting for paper bags was helping didn’t you? Never fear, all hope is not lost.

Here’s where the humble reusable canvas tote bags come in. Just looking at the information above proves that there’s no better option than to go reusable! If you need further convincing though…

  • The average reusable bag has a lifespan that beats over seven hundred single-use plastic bags
  • If just one person uses a reusable bag for their whole life, they’re avoiding the use of 22 000 plastic bags in total alone
  • You’re becoming a part of the solution when you prove that there’s little need and demand for plastic or paper bags!

So come on, what are you waiting for. Tote simple, totewise.

Were you surprised by these facts about paper bags? Share with us some of your experiences in using different forms of bags and which one you think worked best holistically.

One plastic free day, keeps the doctor away

Our motto has always been ‘Small changes make big differences’. So you can imagine how we felt when we came across the Plastic-Free Tuesday initiative. The team behind Plastic-Free Tuesday aren’t asking very much of their readers – just to set aside one day a week (Tuesday, naturally) where you skip out on using plastic to help reduce our global plastic footprint.

Here’s some of the reasons why you should be participating in spending one less day a week consuming and using plastic

1. We only started using plastics since the 1930s, and plastic bags since the 70s-80s. That’s less than a century. Yet in the last 10 years we’ve produced more plastic than we have in the whole of the last century.

2. It’s rewarding and you’ll learn so much. To know that your change can help reduce the impact of something so negative is an experience that money can’t buy – and you learn so much about new alternatives that you’ll constantly be thirsty for more and more! Plastic-Free Tuesday writer Marlies can testify to how rewarding it can be! What’s also great is her plastic-free mission this year is to reduce her use of any single-use plastics in her daily life. We love!

3. Reducing your use of plastic once a week can eventually build up a habit. You can build a habit when you start doing things more than three times. Progressively implementing new alternatives and strategies to using less plastic on a weekly basis can ease you into a complete lifestyle change.

If you’re looking for more reasons head on over to the Plastic-Free Tuesday website. They’ve got some great recommendations as to how you can be participating. Share with them your plastic free stories and don’t forget to #PlasticFreeTuesday – and if you’re looking for more reasons, they’ve whipped up a great blog post here.

Don’t feed the plastic monster – image courtesy of Plastic-Free Tuesday

This week’s Plastic Free roundup

It’s Friday, which means another week is drawing to a close. We thought we’d do a recap of the most interesting plastic free related facts we found out this week.

LandCare Conference 2014

“When the earth is spoiled, humanity & all living things are diminished” – Bob Hawke

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Landcare Australia held their 2014 National Landcare Conference in Melbourne this week from September 17-19. The conference focused on the theme of Celebrating our history, growing our future. There were keynote speeches from renowned chef Matt Moran, CSIRO Futures leader Dr Stefan Hajkowicz and ABC TV Landline presenter Pip Courtney amongst the many other documentary, speeches and activities going on at the conference. It was a great way of engaging young people with the issues of land and water degradation, and how sustainability is the way of the future.

We can only hope that the positive effects of the Landcare Conference helped our younger generations realise the importance of recycling and sustainable practices. Innovation is often viewed as a necessity in fixing a lot of the issues we face with the environment, but sometimes the smallest practice such as properly recycling our plastic bags or carrying around a reusable bag can make a huge difference. It can impact directly or indirectly on other issues. Most people don’t think much about the plastic bag they’ve thrown in the bin, but this one bag would most potentially find its way into our water systems and threaten our wildlife. In fact, each year 10 million tonnes of plastic ends up in waterways around the world.

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Photo credit: ECCO Magazine

If you’re on Twitter, have a quick browse of the #landcareconf14 and #landcare25 to catch all the action that went down!

Timboon, Victoria

In more uplifting news, we discovered that a humble little town, Timboon in Victoria is celebrating its 10th year going plastic free! Timboon was the first town in Victoria to go plastic-free in its business district way back in 2004. Timboon’s plastic bag initiative was started out by a local takeaway food shop owner, Jeff Bedggood along with a few other traders. They used a government pilot grant to help remove the need for plastic bags in their town – and now, 14 years later Timboon have a complete plastic bag ban. That’s 130 000 less plastic bags a month in the supermarket alone. This is a spectacular story of how a few individuals can spark a larger community movement and achieve success!

mission-success

California plastic bag ban (finally!) 

California has made history, becoming the FIRST American state to pass a statewide plastic bag ban. San Francisco became the first city in the whole of the US to implement this ban back in 2007. It seems the rest of the state is only starting to catch up now, but better late than never. Nathan Weaver of Environment California says the ban “shows that we can achieve lasting victories for ocean and environmental health. Nothing we use for a few minutes should pollute our ocean for hundreds of years.”

We can only hope this movement spreads to NSW who still remains one of the few Australian states to not yet implement a plastic bag ban. Just to put things into perspective for you worldwide, an estimated 1 trillion plastic bags is consumed annually. That’s a staggering 2 million plastic bags per minute. We only use these bags for an average of 12 minutes before we dispose of them. Unfortunately it takes 15-1000 years for a plastic bag to degrade and even so, they’re not completely degraded. They only break up into smaller plastic particles.

It’s nice to see the world is starting to notice the need for the plastic bag ban.

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Enjoy your weekend responsibly and don’t forget your reusable tote bags! #totewise #plasticfree

How to tote wisely

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Quite fittingly for our first post, we’re giving you a brief guide on the immense practicality of tote bags that will leave you wondering why you still haven’t yet ditched the plastic bag for its much more handy and handsome counterpart – the humble reusable tote bag. You’ll pay a one-time small, affordable amount for a bag that is strong, durable, washable and will eliminate the need of over 1000 plastic bags at the very least in the long run.

You know what the best part is? You can reuse the exact same canvas tote bag for all the following purposes. Let’s join in on the revolution of #BYOB. Bring your own bag.

1. Grocery bag

Most of the plastic bags we accumulate come from our multiple trips to the supermarket. The lifespan of a plastic bag is short. We use it to carry our groceries from point A (the supermarket) to our cars and then to point B (home). Then that’s it, every time we go back to the supermarket we’re given yet another plastic bag to serve the exact same purpose as its predecessor. Yet for something that serves such a short purpose, it takes a hell of a long time to break down (15-1000 years in fact)! If we all just packed a reusable canvas bag with us every time we went to the supermarket, imagine how much less plastic bags we’d be using.

Tips to get you started:

  • Pop a few canvas bags in your trunk, or glove compartment of your car so that you have them ready whenever you need them. You never know when they’ll come in handy.
  • They may be strong and durable, but don’t forget to give your canvas grocery bags a wash once in a while to avoid any cross contamination with food and to keep that bag in business!

2. Book bag

Remember when you were a kid and you used canvas library bags? Well, you can’t be a kid again, but you can certainly do the latter. The best part about toting a canvas bag around on a regular basis is that it can support a whole range of weights. So if you ever wanted to just pop into the library or grab a few reading materials, you can simply slip it into your tote bag and be on your merry way. Certainly beats a plastic bag. How many times have you found yourself tearing holes in your plastic bags from the sharp edges of books?

3. Beach bag

Afraid to take that Prada tote bag of yours to the beach because you don’t want to get sand in it? Great news. The humble canvas tote bag is your saviour. Because they’re so durable, so cheap and easy to clean there’s no reason why you should be afraid of taking your canvas tote bag to the beach with you.

4. Camera bag

I can vouch for this one. No more bulky camera bags. If you’re just going out and want to bring your camera along without drawing to much attention to yourself or looking like a tourist (or avid camera enthusiast) then simply pop it into your canvas tote bag. They’re strong enough to support the varying weights of cameras.

Tips to get you started:

  • buy yourself a nice lightweight camera insert (they sell them at Crumpler) and you can keep your cameras protected and supported whilst they’re sitting in your canvas bags. These inserts can transform almost any bag into a camera bag!

What are you guys waiting for? Start today and #totewise