We Are The Tidal Wave

We Are The Tidal Wave

Since the single use carry out bags ban in California, many people have switched over to bringing their groceries home in reusable bags. Because of this, we have reduced plastic bag litter along the California coastline and streams by 72 percent, which is fantastic! But I believe we can do even better.

You say no to the plastic bags at checkout, but if you look at your shopping cart, are you really plastic bag free? What about the bags we use for fruits and veggies?

Today I bought 99% of my fruits and veggies in reusable bags. I used old t-shirts and bandanas to make bags for my items. Sure, it would be easier to buy reusable produce bags, but the very production of such bags actually takes more resources than producing plastic bags. Surprised? So was I.

Various bags leave different environmental impacts based on the “extraction and production of raw materials through manufacture, packaging, transportation, and finally disposal” (Berkeley Science Review, 2017). According to the UK Environmental Agency’s Life Cycle Assessment, a cotton reusable bag must be used 173 times to be equal to the environmental impact of a conventional plastic bag.

Image credit: Nicole Repina, BSR Design Team.
Image credit: Nicole Repina, BSR Design Team; Berkeley Science Review

For this reason, I decided to make bags out of fabric I already had at home instead of going out and buying reusable bags. We all have those shirts that we don’t wear, so let’s recycle them into bags! Here’s the video I watched to learn how.

Did You Get Weird Looks At Checkout?

No. If you’re worried about what people will say, don’t be.


I took steel containers to the store to buy trail mix. I first asked the cashier to weigh my empty containers so that we could subtract the weight of the containers from the mix during checkout. She was supportive and did so gladly. I also received positive attention from other shoppers. We were able to have a conversation about sustainable options and I hope, in the end, I was able to leave such an impression as to inspire them to steer away from single use bags. One woman I spoke with was very happy with my actions. She said she was glad I was doing something, because the president surely isn’t. It only takes one person to make a difference, so why shouldn’t that person be you? Turn towards green alternatives and inspire others in your local communities to do the same. The power of a chain reaction is incredible.

One drop of water is powerless, but it is none other but the collection of droplets that compose a tidal wave.

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8 thoughts on “We Are The Tidal Wave”

  • I think you are saying we have to use a bag 173 times in order for it to be worth it. I don’t think that is a problem. Most of us shop several times a week. I am sure I will use all of my bags 173+times. I made most of my bags, many small produce sizes and I do get funny looks but I ignore them. I also make bags out of t shirts and I buy them at thrift stores so I don’t worry about their production since they were pr-owned. It has become a way of life for me, re-using, buying used, making, finding. Thank you for your article! Keep up the good work.

    • So glad to hear you continue to use your hand made bags despite the looks! Humans love to mirror each other, that’s how fads and trends develop, so hopefully our example can set off a movement!

      And true, a shopper will definitely use their bag more than 173 times, so if you don’t already own a reusable bag, there’s nothing wrong in buying one. My logic is if I can reuse something I already have to serve the same purpose, there’s no need to fuel the production process as that itself ends up creating waste. Thrift shopping is a great way to break the cycle. ?

  • I totally agree with you! We need to stop thinking about others, we should start changes ourselves hoping that people around will notice and want to join. Great idea for making the bags! I’ve just posted my upcycled pillow cases that are now going shopping with me ?

    • Try Google-ing stores where you can buy in bulk, there may be stores near you! I found this website for the Zero Market where you can buy items package free – http://www.thezeromarket.com

      There are many ways to be green. Start with what you can – use reusable bags and water bottles; take your own containers to fast food places and restaurant; buy in bulk. There are so many ways to start!

Have thoughts? Let me know below!

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