So, I save plastic bags and re-use them. Which means that sometimes I have to wash them, and then when there are a lot of bags, I have to hang them out to dry.
While hanging plastic bags on the line, I repeat to myself “I am a crazy bag lady. This is insane behavior.”
It helps to laugh at yourself sometimes.
Apparently, the “this is ridiculous but I feel I must” attitude toward laundering baggies is universal. Recently, a Mother Jones reader wondered Is Washing Out Sandwich Baggies a Waste of Time? In her answer, blogger Kiera Jones even goes so far as to calculate the water requirements of washing a bag vs. buying a new one:
One study (PDF) showed that 58 gallons of water were required to produce 1500 plastic grocery bags—about .04 gallons of water per bag. Let’s say it takes you five seconds to wash out a baggie. Since most kitchen faucets flow at about two gallons per minute, that’s roughly .17 gallons of water per washing, or four times the amount required to make a new plastic bag.
Whee! Washing bags is bad! I’m freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee–
But despite the water cost, the other benefits of reusing baggies—savings on raw materials, emissions from shipping, and landfill space—make washing worthwhile, says Darby Hoover, a senior resource specialist at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “When plastic bags are reused, fewer plastic bags need to be produced,” writes Hoover. “The production of plastic bags uses energy, water, and in most cases a non-renewable resource (fossil fuel-derived); reusing bags, even when you use water to wash them out, saves resources overall.”
ARGH. There is only small comfort in conserving the resources required to make a Ziploc bag, put it in a box, put that box on a pallet, wrap the pallet in plastic, ship it across an ocean, transport it across a continent, unpack it, place it on a shelf, and shine fluorescent light on it until I am ready to buy it.
For now, my bags go on the line. I am a crazy person, but I have my reasons.