Recycle Your Plastic Bags

Aug 19, 2009

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am a little crazy when it comes to recycling. For the past few years, I have made a conscious effort to recycle most everything in my house that can be recycled. For years, the City of Austin would only take corrugated cardboard, glass, newspaper, magazines, aluminum cans and #2 plastic. But, I had a lot of other stuff to get rid of, such as cereal boxes and granola bar boxes and all those other plastics #1 and 3-9! Who wanted those?

It turned out there was a recycling center in downtown Austin and so, about once a month, I would make the trek up there (not too hard to do since my son went to school a few blocks away) and drop everything off.

But then, a wonderful thing happened. The City of Austin decided that it would accept all those other items and gave a us a huge recycling container to collect it all in. What a relief.

The one item, though, I still couldn’t get rid of was plastic bags. I wanted to recycle them but Austin wouldn’t take them.

And, to make matters worse, I saw an Oprah show last year about the huge landfill of plastic bags in the Pacific Ocean. The mass of plastic bags is TWICE the size of Texas and goes 90 feet deep in some places. If you didn’t see that Oprah show, or just want to read about it, click here.

So, with that terrible information in my head, I set off for a way to recycle my plastic bags – and I found one.

One of our local grocery stores is HEB. Another is Randalls (which also goes by Safeway and Tom Thumb, depending on where you live in the country). Both of these stores have bins set up to collect your plastic bags – right in front of the stores.

Even though these bins have been there for years, I don’t think a lot of people know they are there. For example, when I went to visit my best friend in DC recently, I pointed out to her the bin in front of her Safeway. She had never noticed it before, but was glad to know it was there and (I believe) she now recycles her bags there. (I'll let you all know after she reads this blog post!)

I know. I know. You probably want to say to me, well, I take my cloth bags to the grocery store so I don’t have that many plastic bags to recycle.

I want to ask you, though, have you looked around your house lately? I don’t recycle a lot of plastic grocery bags, either. But still, I usually have two pretty big bags full of “bags” to take down to the store at least once a week. Where do they come from? I’ll tell you. They come from the plastic I rip off the toilet paper or the paper towels. They come from the plastic wrap that goes around the large cartoon of juice boxes or ice tea bottles I buy at Costco. They come from the plastic bag that holds the diapers together in the box. We are surrounded by plastic bags – and I don’t just mean the one that come from Walmart or Target. Take the time to notice how many you go through in a day. You’ll be surprised.

Thus, I encourage you to recycle those bags and to start this by seeing if your local grocery store has a program to help you do so. Also, there is a website called where you can find a plastic bag recycling location in your area. In addition, click here to find a list of the kinds of plastic bags that are recyclable.

Do a little research and make some effort so that the plastic bags don’t end up in that Pacific landfill.

Twice the size of Texas? Have you been to Texas lately? Trust those of us who live here - it's huge.


Anonymous said...

Thanks, Kelly for getting the word out. I've been doing all these things for a while now, but I think most people don't pay attention to it. I keep a large-sized plastic bag hanging in my garage. When it gets full of smaller plastic bags, I take the whole thing to the bin at Walmart. I also reuse grocery bags (that don't have holes) as trash bags. I haven't figured out a way to not use plastic bags for the trash. Any ideas?


Kelly Seiler said...

I keep a bag tied to my bar stool backrest and it fills up fast! I didn't realize Walmart has a bin, too - but that's good to know! I wish I could figure out how to get rid of plastic trash bags, but with so many poopy diapers, it seems an impossible task! :-)

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