May 22, 2019

The Rise and Fall of Plastic Bags

I was born in the middle of World War II – aeons ago! Our writing instruments when I first started school were slates and slate pencils. Biros (ballpoint pens) were invented in my youth but we were not allowed to use them at school. We had to use the school watery ink and pen with a nib. Can you imagine how difficult it was for a child to draw the weekend homework maps and write place names with a tiny little mapping pen nib that would split and splatter Indian Ink if you pressed too hard?

Our dolls were made of celluloid. I had an antique bisque doll left to me by my great-aunt Lily but wasn’t allowed to play with it when I was young. I’m thankful for the sense of my parents as it is a beautiful doll with the sweetest face, and probably worth quite a bit of money, and it would be terrible to think of it being smashed by a careless child. Post-war was the age of innovation and design and soon dolls that were able to be cuddled, washed, dropped, and roughly handled were freely available.

Then came the plastic bags! In the late 1970’s the plastic bag was introduced to the grocery industry and by the mid 1980’s supermarket plastic bags had replaced paper bags – popular because they were cheaper and stronger. It really isn’t that long ago, is it? 

I confess to a love of plastic bags, especially those thick ones that are used to package your new dress or pair of shoes. I’ve used and reused them for decades. They are strong enough to hold a myriad of items, especially wool, and cotton and patterns and fabric and all things stitching. 

Then came the biodegradable plastic bags. I didn’t think much about that fact when I grabbed a bag to package my year’s taxation papers. In they went to the box marked ‘Tax Papers’ to be kept for the compulsory seven years. A couple of years later, and delving into the box for an important piece of paper, I was greeted with thousands of pieces of small white pieces of plastic all through my papers!!!

And now we have a total ban on supermarket plastic bags where I live. That doesn’t bother me, because for many years I have been taking my canvas fabric bags to the supermarket so that I didn’t add to the environmental disaster that these plastic bags have caused. HOWEVER, I kept my supply of those lovely thick ones to carry around whatever current craft project I was stitching.

THEN …. one of my lovely readers saw my little zippered pouches that I sell on Etsy. She suggested I make a pouch that would fit a 'project-on-the-go' - fabric, pattern, hoop, threads etc. I came up with a pouch that is 8½ inches square which fits a 6 in hoop comfortably.

When I realised what a fabulous size such a pouch is, and how suitable it is for all sorts of things (and especially projects on the go), I had to make another one!

Of course I couldn't stop at two, so made yet another one! 

What a difference - having your project in a beautiful zippered pouch, compared to carrying it around in a reused plastic shopping bag! My love affair with those thick plastic bags is over! 

You can find my zippered Craft Pouches
here in my Etsy Store.

PS I’m happy to take order to suit your personal taste if you are interested.

 Happy stitching!


Nanna Chel said...

Val, my husband keeps plastic bags for fishing and was a but miffed with the ban but it is for the best when you see how much marine life is killed by them floating around in the waterways. Love your craft pouch.

Sharon said...

I truly love mine Val... It sits next to my chair and is ready to go at a moments notice... And as you say, one less plastic bag in the world...


Little Penpen said...

Isn't it funny how things change? The arrival of plastic bags was huge... now they are taking them away. I use them for trash can liners, but otherwise I think I can live without them. I enjoyed your trip down memory lane. Cute bags you are making!

susan said...

In America, paper or plastic is the shopper's option to choose in most groceries, though department stores use the heavier plastic, and I like those still. I recycle them as lots of things. The problem isn't really the bag, it's the disposal of them, and not recycling. Some of us here do take our own bags, especially if we shop at Aldi. Fabric or knitted bags are a good option to the plastic ones, and most stores sell fabric ones of one kind or another. Our state of Tennessee just handed out a fabric (some kind of woven polyester fabric) bag to everyone at the grocery a month ago, and I have half a dozen others, plus an insulated zip bag for cold things. I don't know if we can get people to change habits without all stores foregoing the convenience of shopping bags, but it will be interesting to see what substance inventors come up with next to fill the need for bags.

Val Laird said...

Thanks for letting us know about the American scene, Susan. Yes, I wonder what they will come up with next - we always have to have a bag!