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UN Millennium Development Goals

Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability

I, undoubtedly like many others, have an overabundant stockpile of plastic grocery bags. I have one of those cloth, eco-friendly, reusable grocery bags but–I'm a trifle embarrassed to say–have used it only once. Instead, in my frequent trips to the northeast Minneapolis Lunds for bread or milk or, when feeling not so health-oriented, microwavable White Castle sliders, I always take their plastic bags–two bags for the milk alone. Plus, given that I usually bring my backpack, I immediately take most things out of the bags and stuff the food in my pack, tossing the excess bags that I've crumpled in an outside pocket under the kitchen sink when I get home.

This is precisely the kind of waste touched on by the group presenting UN MDG 7. To ensure sustainability, it's vital that we find some alternative means by which to ferry our groceries. I read in the Star Tribune recently that something like only 1% of all plastic bags are recycled, and Americans used on the order of 90 billion plastic bags every year. Frankly, I never even realized you could recycle plastic bags, though you'd think it ought to be obvious. At Lunds I've recently noticed bins popping up that encourage shoppers to recycle their bags. Lunds, at least the one in northeast, uses only plastic bags, and despite their efforts to promote recycling, this seems to only compound the problem. I've seen many places selling their own cloth bags, but it seems that many people aren't yet willing to forfeit the convenience of conventional paper and plastic. I, for one, will at least try and use my cloth grocery bag more often, and will recycle all the unused bags cluttering my kitchen cabinets.