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"I don't really need that bag."

Looking for something simple you can do to lower your impact on the environment? The next time you make a quick grocery run, or pick up some fast food, just say six words: "I don't really need that bag." Plastic bags are virtually indestructible, and are particularly damaging when they get into our bodies of water, as an article from Salon describes.

While we can't stop plastic bag production - or even get stores like Wal-Mart and Target to cut back on their over-generous use of plastic bags - we can choose to cut back on our own plastic bag use. Who knows? We may raise the awareness of some cashiers in the process.

If you want to go to the next level, you can start stockpiling plastic bags in your apartment, and return them to the grocery store when you have a large enough number of them. Remember: plastic bags cannot be recycled at the curb, because they clog the machines at recycling plants. Recycling them at the store is less convenient, but it's better than sending them to the dump, where they quite possibly may blow away and contaminate the environment.

Eventually, I may make the switch to bringing a cloth bag with me to the grocery store. I don't see how I can make that work, though, as long as I only go to the grocery store twice a month.

There are always trade-offs involved in being environmentally sensitive. in this case, I must decide which is worse: using plastic bags, which cannot be recycled efficiently into more plastic bags, or burning more fuel by making more frequent trips to the grocery store.

For right now, I'm comfortable with my current level of practice, and I recommend it highly (though, hopefully, not in a holier-than-thou manner). You, too, may learn to enjoy saying, "I don't really need that bag."