Because I live in California where everything costs 15 times what it does everywhere else, I work several jobs. This isn’t exactly where I planned to be at this stage in my career, but life is funny that way. I’m grateful for the jobs I have. Because of them, I can pay the bills and eat, which, as you know, is very important to me.
One of my jobs is working as a sales associate in a women’s clothing store. I love my co-workers, I love this store, and shallow though it may be, I love nice clothes. They make me feel really good and if they make me look thin, I really love them. Maybe it’s because I always got hand me downs as the youngest kid — or maybe I actually am shallow.
But here’s what I’ve learned. Every item that comes into our store, comes individually wrapped in plastic. Think about that. When your eyes scan a clothing store next time, imagine every one of those pieces covered in plastic. That plastic is not recycled. Not in my retail store and probably not in most stores. (Although when I worked in Pittsburgh there was a co-worker who was a crazed recycler and tossed our retailer’s plastic bags in the plastic bag recycling bin at the grocery store.) It’s nice to know I’m not the only obsessive plastic bag hater.
I’m guessing there’s no recycling because it would be a hassle or expensive, but imagine if each retailer decided to make a difference by recycling the mountain of plastic that comes into their stores every day. Walmart, Macy’s, Target, JC Penney, Sears, Nordstrom, K-Mart, REI, Dicks…my head practically explodes when I think of how many retailers are out there and how much plastic that amounts to on a daily basis. Think how much less would be in our landfills and how wonderful the public’s perception of each store would be if they did that.
I saw an article online a few years ago about a Japanese man who created a machine that turns plastic back into oil. I think this is a fantastic idea, but for some reason no one is doing it on a large scale yet and I don’t understand why…must be money. I’m sure my businessman brother will explain to me that there’s not enough money in it, which is why people aren’t doing it, but aren’t we better than that? Why can’t we just do things because they’re the right thing to do to save our planet? Here’s a link to the story. Man Invents Machine to Turn Plastic Into Oil.
In an online article by ABC News called, “Retailers Push Reusable Bags to Save Money, Environment,” they do mention that retailers are starting to consider the environment and are selling reusable bags. Stella McCartney and Hermes are two of the first to do it, and I applaud them for taking the time to think about the earth. It’s only so big, and once it’s covered in all our garbage, it’s going to be pretty disgusting. Many places are already covered in garbage.
Every day when I walk my dog, and yes, unfortunately I do use a plastic bag to clean up his poop — I use the one the newspaper is wrapped in every day (See? There’s something else I should stop doing – getting a paper! The list is endless, and so is this sentence.) I see so much trash on the street, it’s sickening. I do pick some of it up, but why aren’t we teaching our kids not to litter? (I knew I shouldn’t have gotten started on this because now I won’t shut up.)
Anyway, the reusable bag article goes on to say, “Americans throw away almost 100 billion plastic bags each year and only 1% to 3% are recycled.” As I’ve said before, I’ve been recycling my plastic bags for years and have been mocked for it by friends. Here again, is the shot of my Plastic bag dryer bought as a joke, but I use it all the time! It’s available at Amazon and other places.
And don’t get me started on dry cleaners. How much plastic must they go through? Is it necessary? Maybe they should ask if you want a plastic bag, instead of just giving you one.
I think we need to create a movement to push big retailers and drycleaners nationwide to start recycling their plastic bags AND we need to start bringing our own bags to the store when we shop – not just for groceries, but for everything. Why bring home bags that just get thrown away when we don’t have to? If we can do it when we grocery shop, we can do it when we clothing shop too. I don’t shop much, but from now on, that’s what I’m going to do.
And next time you go into your favorite clothing store, ask them if they recycle their plastic bags. If they say no, call or contact them via email and tell them to start. (Many links are listed below — now you have no excuse.)
Wouldn’t it be cool if we could start something here? Below this post are the articles I reference and the links to contact large retailers. If you like this idea, then please share this post, like it and re-post it to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, or wherever else it will get some attention, and tell your friends to do it too. I’m sensing a movement here.
Let’s do something about this. I know I sound idealistic and naive, but somebody has to be idealistic and naive, and who better than me? I swear after this detour into recycling I will get back to cooking, baking and avoiding arrest.