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Reusable Bags

Asking the science department what they think about the ”Bring Your Own Bag Act.”

Climate Change is one subject that is heavily debated in the news recently. Taking the earth systems course during freshman year included 2 units focusing on climate change and things that cause it, and how to tell signs of climate change. Even here at school, in the cafeteria we have trash composts where you can separate your food waste and the rest of your trash.   When taking in all of this information,  the units have opened my mind into being more mindful of our environment. They have also inspired me little by little ways to  help the environment and have a broader outlook on these things. Including certain ways we all as humans could be more sustainable.


During my Sophomore Year the  ‘’Bring Your Own Bag Act.’’ has become enforced in grocery stores. According to the Baltimore County Government,. its goal is to reduce plastic pollution, litter, and waste and increase the usage of reusable bags. Here at school seeing Canvas bags is not at all uncommon, and people have cool designs on them and usually carry the materials they need for school. There have been more environmentally friendly projects put in school,including the trash cans that dispose of food waste, and plastic in separate entities, highlighting recycling. 


Distribution of single use brown bags is to reduce impact of plastic bag littering in waterways. They now charge a minimum of 0.05. Seeing this being enforced in grocery stores was very fascinating to me, due to the fact that out of all the ways to promote sustainability, I never really saw reusing bags or brown bags as the default because so much of products use plastic itself. It seemed like it is the primary  way to contain your stuff after shopping, and how grocery store foods are contained. With this act, I wanted to ask some of teacher’s from the science department  what they think about it, and if it could promote more sustainable ways in consumption. 


One of the teachers I asked was Mr Chandler., He mentioned that he likes this act and believes “finding ways to reuse any items is valuable.” He continues “plastic is one of the largest Earth pollutants on our planet. Finding ways to mitigate this by implementing legislation seems to be a good action towards a more sustainable future.”  For promoting more sustainable activities, Mr Chandler does mention that a lot of sustainable practices like using your reusable water bottle instead of plastic bottle from your local grocery store can become a fad.  He touches upon the fact that when people try to “buy reusable water bottles such as Nalgene  and Stanley’s to limit the number of plastic water bottles used…. it’s not uncommon for people to have a whole cabinet full of these reusable containers.”  This is not far-fetched at all. 


In late 2023 to 2024, carrying your Stanley Cup is like a coveted symbol for many consumers. They  are  the new trendy bottle that you see people carrying around in public areas. The Stanley Cup hashtag on Instagram has 1.7M posts and on Tiktok so many creators  obtain views over their extreme collections of the franchise in different colors and styles. So there is always a question if people are buying these bottles for the betterment of the environment or just to carry around a toy collection to switch out each day.  He ended off with saying “I think if we really want to promote sustainable practices in the future we need to be okay not having a large variety of items…different colors, sizes, shapes, etc. We need to be okay with having less of everything…clothes, shoes, drinking apparatus, etc.”  Which is extremely relevant as consumer culture is a huge part of people’s lives now with globalization and interconnectedness to trends with the rise of social media. 

It’s very fascinating that while asking Mrs Glassman, who teaches earth systems and chemistry, also  touched upon a similar topic of people’s consumerism when it comes to more sustainable practices. She stated that she thinks it’s “Well- meaning but I don’t know what people are using in place of that, even though I know that plastic bags, there is so many bad things about them, but [people] buy a paper bag and then you don’t use it.” This phrase touches upon people buying the alternative to one thing but never really using it like it should be, touching on the consumerist aspect. Continuing with,  “So unless you use your reusable bag a lot..its worse for the environment”


 She does walk in the morning, and sees a lot of less plastic bags out in the open, which could show the effectiveness of the act put in place. She explains that she thinks “It’s good, I think the county charging for making you pay a nickel for a paper bag is a good idea, otherwise people are just going to take them, but if you got to keep paying a nickel every time, you are going to start to think to yourself, I need to bring my own bags. ” “It makes you think about it” I asked her if it could promote more sustainable acts in the future, she explained that “I don’t know if it’s going to do much more than the bags…I just don’t see people saying oh wow I’m doing this one good thing let me go do something else, I think it made people think about the bags though…I don’t really see it other than the bags and being aware of that, but I think it’s something that we can do, as people that are coming towards the environmental club.” Referring to the one here at Carver,  and those students having a lot of ideas for creating a better environment and healthy practices in our school! 


Lastly, I also spoke with Mrs. Cogswell who specializes in AP environmental science and living systems this year. She mentions how she “one hundred percent supports it and the use of single use plastic and paper bags is a major environmental problem both for the use of resources and the trash that it generates afterwards.” She also explains that she has personally” been using reusable bags for over 10 years. It’s not that big of a deal to do it. So I am one hundred percent for it.”  Asking her if it was  going to promote sustainability in the future, she explained that “the fact that we are reducing the amount of single use plastics in our stream that in itself is going to be more sustainable because people are going to have to go pay for them, in which they will eventually start doing or you know just start bringing reusable bags, so that is going to reduce the use of the amount of plastic and reduce the overall production…” 


She hopes that the “ habit of being more sustainable in that one action will help encourage people to be more sustainable in other parts of their life like “‘“oh I’ll take my reusable water bottle instead of getting, you know, bottled water”’” 


At the end of the day, my time at Carver has  influenced me to be a bit more sustainable in life. Even if it’s not all the way, taking science here has substantially  changed the way I think about the earth at times. One way was  plastic bottles, I use more of my reusable ones now. However, I never used it as much as I’m using it now. So at the end of the day, I feel like with more exposure and acts like this, we can influence many. 

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    Stone BalandJun 3, 2024 at 1:02 pm

    I love the effectiveness of Baltimore County’s tax on paper bags, people are so worried about money that they won’t bother trying to pay 5 cents for a bag, they’ll just bring in an old one.