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Saving the world one costly checkout choice at a time


During a visit to South Africa to see my Dad, Stepmom, and stepbrother, I was intrigued, as I usually am, by each country’s unique take on the “Green Movement”. During my time in London, I noticed a large push for recyclable packaging. In America, we can of course use the large green bins for our glass, plastic, newspaper, and so forth. All countries seem to have adapted the cloth, resusable grocery bags. I have about 6… all of which have been accumulated from various freebie events. Maybe since I didn’t purchase them, that explains my 50/50 shot of┬áremembering them as I walk into the grocery store.

South Africa also has these bags available, but a new innovation struck me on my last trip to the grocer…paying for your plastic bags. Each and every one of them. 5┬ó a piece. Now, that doesn’t sound terrible I guess. But considering on my average $200/month (for one person) grocery bill, I would pull an educated guess of requiring about 40 plastic bags a month. On a yearly average, that may cost me $24 in South Africa. And when you think about it, when does it seem rational to pay any amount to pollute the planet?

National Geographic wrote an article, “Are plastic bags sacking the environment?” As an agriculturalist, I am also an environmentalist. In order for future families to be able to raise animals or plants for human consumption, we need to ensure there is enough clean dirt to grow the things we need. And this tiny fee could make a huge difference in a country this big, don’t you think?

I personally do my best to “re-use”…I line my bathroom trashcans with old Kroger bags, pick up dog poop (which in itself seems silly to waste plastic to pick up something far more biodegradable to begin with), or even finally gather them up by the hundreds and drive around with them in my trunk until I remember to drop them off at the store’s enterance for their own form of recycling. But I sort of like this take on it. It surely made me think twice on whether my gallon milk with a built-in handle really also needed a plastic bag in order for me to carry it the short distance from the car to the fridge. I rather think not. Kudos, South Africa!

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