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What to do with all those plastic bags you now have?

What to do with all those plastic bags you now have?

Walmart grocery bags

Plastic grocery bags line the checkout counters at Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market in Bentonville, Ark., in a 2014 image. (AP Photo/Sarah Bentham)

We finally got used to bringing our own reusable bags to grocery stores and along comes COVID-19 to make us go back to using plastic. Amid worries about the virus clinging to reusable bags, many stores have banned their use. So now that the plastic bags are mounting in our homes, many of us are wondering what to do with them.

OneSTL, a sustainability collaboration in our region, has come up with some guidelines for us, just in time for Earth Day. 

"Earth Day is a great day to start taking small steps to make a big impact to help the environment," said Elysia Musumeci, sustainability education and outreach coordinator at Brightside St. Louis.

1. Bag your groceries at your car. You could just leave with your cart full (this is easier at self-checkout or a store like Aldi), push your full cart to your car and then transfer the food to your reuseable bags. 

2. Ask for paper and not plastic. Paper bags are easily recyclable into items like paper towels and toilet paper.

3. Find alternate uses for plastic bags. Use them to pick up after your dog, or to line bathroom trash cans. 

4. Save them for recycling later. Right now, most groceries are not even allowing you to return the bags for recycling. They probably will down the road, and you can return them then. 

A couple of other things to note: Never put used masks and disposable gloves in your home recycling bin. And now that you are home more often, consider doing a personal waste audit. Where are you wasteful and how can you cut down? 


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