“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” — Dr. Seuss in The Lorax

I confess… I’m not the most frugal person. I even get fewer points for recycling. But it’s never too late to learn a tip or two about frugality and alternative uses for items clogging up the enviroment.plastic bags

John Roach at National Geographic News writes, “Plastic bags are so cheap to produce, sturdy, plentiful, easy to carry and store that they have captured at least 80 percent of the grocery and convenience store market since they were introduced a quarter century ago.”

“As a result, the totes are everywhere. They sit balled up and stuffed into the one that hangs from the pantry door. They line bathroom trash bins. They carry clothes to the gym. They clutter landfills. They flap from trees. They float in the breeze. They clog roadside drains. They drift on the high seas. They fill sea turtle bellies.”

What are we supposed to do with all those bags? Bags that multiply quicker than coat hangers! Sure, plastic is better for the environment, but they’re hard to recycle. Yesterday on NPR, Jule Gardner came up with the answer. Click here for the podcast. He reports, “Typically the only place to drop off your bags is in those bins at the grocery store. The American Plastics Council is working on how to expand plastic-bag recycling. You can check that out at plasticbagrecycling.org.”

Gardner interviewed Ray Hampton at the Virginia-based Trex Company. Trex is one of a few companies giving plastic grocery bags new life. “Trex chops them up, mixes them with wood pulp, and then shapes them into boards. The boards are used for decks that never need to be treated or stained.”

Until there are more companies like Trex, what are your options? Reuse the bags.

Robert Krebs at the American Plastics Council says, “Uh, they’re a great mitt for things you don’t want to touch, like picking up after your dog. They’re umbrella holders so that you can put that wet umbrella inside of your purse or inside your briefcase so that it doesn’t flood it. There are shoe covers, you know when you come in from the mud and you don’t want to track it all over your house.” Oh my god, he sounds like Dawn!

He had one final ideal to keep bags organized: “Stuff them in an old sock, cut the toe off and pull them out one by one.” FrugalFinesse provides these instructions: “Open the sock at the toe seam. Sew top and bottom opening with elastic thread so that the openings will hold bags, but let you pull them out. Tack or screw to the inside of the cabinet door under sink. Stuff plastic grocery bags into top of sock and dispense from the bottom.” Or you can use a paper towel cardboard roll… no sewing required.

Rachel Keller gives 22 Creative Ways to Use Plastic Grocery Bags. I’m taking notes as I write.

Are you still using checks rather than credit cards at the Grocery Store?