Reusable grocery bag


The purpose of this action is to provide IES students with knowledge regarding plastic bag consumption and waste, and provide a way for each student to reduce the amount of plastic waste he or she contributes to Barcelona. The action will be providing reusable grocery bags, made from recycled products, to IES students, along with information pamphlets about the concept of an ecological footprint.


  1. Problem with Plastic and Paper bags: Most people use and then discard plastic and paper bags in grocery stores everyday, without a thought or care. People do not realize that the constant and continual use of plastic and paper bags is hazardous to the environment.
  • Plastic is made from petroleum; so plastic bags are contributing to the depletion of our oil supplies.
  • 8 to 10% of the world’s oil supply is used for the production of plastic.
  • It takes .48 MJ to produce a bag, which is energy that comes from the petroleum that makes the plastic that the bag is made of, and is also used as fuel burned as energy in the manufacturing process to make the bag. on average, a car consumes 6.7 MJ for every mile of driving. So just 14 plastic bags ~ the oil used for one mile of driving.
  • An estimated 12million barrels of oil are used each year for the production of plastic bags
  • The estimated 12 million barrels of oil burned to produce plastic bags release gas and emissions that contribute to the CO2 build up in our atmosphere
  • An estimated 100,000 marine animals die each year from suffocating on plastic bags, and there are currently 42 pounds of plastic for every pound of plankton in the center of the Pacific Ocean, and the ratio is increasing.
  • The UN estimates that there are 46,000 pieces of plastic floating around in every square mile of ocean.
  • One of the main toxins in plastic bags is dioxin. Dioxin is an endoctrin-disruptor, which means that is disrupts hormonal release during the developing stages of a species life, which means that gender development is disrupted. This toxin gets into marine animals digestive system; nine out of ten sea bass off the coast of the southeast US have gender mutations due to dioxin contamination. One in every fifty polar bears has both male and female genitals, from eating dioxin contaminated fish. Humans eat fish too!!
  • Approximately 1 billion birds die from ingesting plastic debris each year.
  • Only 1% of the 380 Billion plastic bags used by Americans each year gets recycled.
  • It takes 1000 years for a single plastic bag to biodegrade in a landfill
  • Paper bag production emits about 50% more global warming gases and uses about 4 times more raw materials than does the production of plastic bags. Also, the production of paper bags produces about 50 times more water pollution than the production of plastic bags.


  • You are paying $98.00 each year in hidden fees for “free plastic bags.” Retailers pay about two cents a piece for the bags they give away, but they charge higher prices for other products to make up for it. Cities pay 17 cents per bag to clean them up off roadsides and to land fill them. Municipalities charge higher taxes to cover these costs.
  • So you are really paying $0.19 per plastic bag. So, say you use an average of 10 plastic bags a week, that’s 520 plastic bags each year. That comes out to $98.80 each year.
  • It is estimated that Americans use over 380 billion plastic bags a year, which amounts to an estimated $64 billion in tax dollars for the clean up of these discarded and littered plastic bags.
  • Reusable bags are more durable and there is less of a chance that they will break or tear, compared to paper of plastic bags, when transporting goods.

Potential Costs:

  • A recycled canvas grocery bag costs an average of $5. There are 500 students currently studying abroad in Barcelona with the IES program. If each student received a bag, the cost would amount to $2,500. However, many of the students, especially those in home-stays, do not need to do any grocery shopping. So, not as many bags would be needed. The bags, when bought in bulk, are usually less expensive. I would suggest that IES take money for the bags out of student's tuition, because it is only an additional $5.


We would first have to propose our idea to student council, which we have already done at the last student council meeting. There concerns were that many students do not need a reusable bag, and thus would not use one. I was also said that many of the major grocery stores sell reusable grocery bags. However, it could be argued further that students, even those living in grocery stores, do on occasion shop for groceries--if not for food then for other products, such as shampoo, condition, soap, and other products like school supplies. A reusable bag would be useful in there instances where a paper of plastic bag would normally be used.
I have investigated some other websites in order to find the best price for bags, and have come across a retailer offering bags made from 10% recycled waste material, offering a deal of 100 standard, reusable shopping bags for $99. After taxes, the total cost of the bags for 500 IES students would be $585.84. That's only $1.17 per IES student! The price bag at the retail price was found at: http://www.onebagatatime.com/shop/bags/buy-100-get-100-free-1.html.

This action can be coordinated with some of the other actions that aim to give students information about how to live sustainably in Barcelona, the reusable cell-phone program and others. Upon arrival students could receive the canvas bag with information and cell phone included. This could be the start of the orientation week and perhaps a larger project could have a short orientation included about living sustainably in Barcelona and using the contents of the bag.



Students Involved in this Action

Grace Pomeroy (leader)
Josh Zipin

 Assignment 8: Peer review form

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Items found: 1
How important?How urgent?How feasible?How far?How well justified?How well presented?Overall gradeReviewerNotes from the reviewer
4454554mtrejoDefinitely a really good step towards overall sustainability if implemented, even if not many students buy their own groceries

Page last modified on Wednesday 04 of April, 2012 17:13:35