In an effort to minimize her ecological footprint, Valerie Colenio has completely abandoned plastic bags in favor of simply buying a new reusable shopping bag every time she goes shopping.
“Plastic bags are harmful to wildlife and produce toxins when they break down. Reusable bags eliminate the waste in landfills and you can get them anywhere!” says Colenio, as she stuffs two environmentally friendly shopping bags into an overflowing cupboard in her kitchen.
“I don’t know why anyone would use plastic bags,” adds Colenio. “Buying reusable ones is such a simple thing to do and it makes such a big difference. And since most of the reusable bags are made in Mexico or China you can get them for as little a $0.99 at most grocery stores.”
Colenio’s friends have noted the wasteful nature of her environmental efforts, but their comments fell on deaf ears.
“She has like 60 of them now, and she never brings them when she goes grocery shopping. I even reminded her once, but she just shrugged and said that she’d be able to get one at the store,” says Colenio’s friend, Kaitlyn. “I feel like I should ask her if she knows what ‘reusable’ means, but I don’t want to hurt her feelings.”
Whatever her friends may say, Colenio insists that she is living a green lifestyle.
“I’ve even phased out plastic trash bags,” she explains. “Now I just put cloth laundry bags in the trash cans in my house and throw them out when they’re full. So much better than icky plastic.”
Local grocery clerks have also noticed Colenio’s habits.
“That girl who buys new bags every time she’s here? Yeah, she also buys extra bags sometimes. I joked about it once, and she went off at me about the drought in California,” says PathMark clerk Jason Yu.
Despite the incredulity of those around her, Colenio vows to keep fighting the good fight.
“Every time I see my hundreds of reusable grocery bags, I think about what an impact I’m making, you know?” she says, as she struggles to close the cabinet door. “It feels so good to be doing my part.”