The Danger of Plastic Bags

Submitted by the Delaware Soil & Water Conservation District 

The holidays bring shopping and buying merchandise. For convenience reasons, most merchandise is put in plastic shopping bags. About 100 billion plastic bags pass through the hands of U.S. consumers every year.

These thin, lightweight bags are estimated to only be used for about 12 minutes before they are disposed. Plastic shopping bags are used for the time period it takes to carry merchandise and groceries from the store to our home. Consumers hope most of these bags are being disposed of properly after use. Unfortunately, thousands of plastic bags blow away from trash receptacles, dumpsters, trucks, and landfills, making unsightly litter in our roadways and waterways.

Luckily, many organizations and businesses give out re-usable fabric shopping bags that we may (or may not) remember to take into the store with us. A memorable and re-usable fabric shopping bag can be made from a favorite t-shirt that isn’t being worn because it is old, fits too tight, or stained. This bag carries up to 25 pounds and is made in a few minutes. Because it is made from a shirt they picked, youth are especially engaged in making these bags. These same youth also give reminders at grocery stores “don’t forget to use the shopping bag I made”.

When youth need another 20-minute activity to complete in November or December when they are not in school, have them make a t-shirt bag. It will reduce the number of plastic bags in the environment, and it keeps kids occupied. There are 4 easy steps to follow when making the t-shirt bag:

1. Cut the ribbed neck out of the shirt. (This is the top of the bag so make the opening large enough to fit milk jugs inside it)
2. Cut the sleeves out of the shirt. (The shoulder seams become the bag handles)
3. Cut the bottom of the shirt into stripes similar to making a no-sew fleece blanket. The strips should be 3 inches long and 1 inch wide
4. Tie the strips together (front to back). If you don’t like the fringe/tied look, turn the shirt inside out. (see picture)

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