Why is there grass at the gas station?

I was waiting at a red light today when I noticed that on the corner a young fellow was mowing the grass in front of the sign at the gas station. WTF?! This drives me crazy! For those of you who live in Las Vegas (or other desert regions), I ask you: Why is there grass at the gas station?

Not only is Southern Nevada (indeed much of the Western US) in the midst of a serious drought, but we live in a DESERT! Grass (and palm trees) is not native to the desert! It costs a lot to water, maintain, etc. Why bother?! If you want to live somewhere that you can have a luscious green lawn, then go move there! Las Vegas ain’t it! Get over it!

And in somewhat related eco-ranting, I wanted to share with you my thoughts about plastic shopping bags:

Don’t my groceries look delicious and snuggly in my environmentally friendly, reusable shopping tote? I’ve made a conscious decision to stop using plastic grocery bags (and paper) whenever possible. And it’s pretty simple to go sans bag.

Consider this: You don’t need a bag for your bag of cat litter or a bag for the shoes that are already in a box! It’s easy to just carry it out with the receipt. You don’t always need a freakin’ bag!

Frankly, I hope anyone who reads this will do the same. Just carry a tote with you, in your purse or in the trunk of your car. IT IS SO EASY! During the last two weeks I’ve refused at least 30 shopping bags. You can too!

And leaving the plastic bags behind lessens our dependence on petroleum products: The average American uses 300 to 700 shopping bags a year, which equates to about 3 to 7 gallons of crude oil!

At the very least, please start recycling your plastic shopping bags! The EPA estimates that only 1% of all plastic bags are recycled.

Need a reason? They’re free and easy right here:

1. Plastic bags (and paper for that matter) basically don’t biodegrade in landfills. According to the EPA, it can take 1,000 years for a plastic bag to decompose while it only takes a month for a paper bag. That means every time you use one as a garbage bag or just bunch them up and throw them out, they just sit there and in some cases hinder biodegradation of items inside. (The exception is the new corn-based biodegradable kind.) So even though plastic bags might take 40% less energy to produce than paper, since they are less likely to be recycled and take so long to decompose, they are worse for the earth.

2. According to Glamour Magazine, approximately 14 regular plastic grocery bags equals one mile of gas for a car. To put it another way, according to the Sierra Club, when one ton of plastic bags are reused or recycled it saves 11 barrels of oil!

3. Do you like animals? How about nature? Both are constantly getting littered with bags. Worse yet, sometimes animals get trapped in them and die.

4. Last month San Francisco became the first US city to ban petroleum-based plastic bags. (They will allow reusable totes, recyclable paper bags and corn-based plastic bags.) According to National Geographic, there are more than 500 million bags are created each year in the US and a trillion worldwide! It has become such a nuisance and problem that some countries have banned them: Ireland, Taiwan, South Africa, Australia and Bangladesh.

5. In fact, even the EPA advises that Americans use reusable cloth shopping bags rather than paper or plastic!

13 thoughts on “Why is there grass at the gas station?

  1. Thanks for the shopping bag notes and the great picture. I recently completely banned plastic bags from our lives. Sometimes I forget to bring my cloth bags, so I tell the cashier to just put all the items back in my cart. I bag them at home in the driveway and then bring them in the house. It works well. I’ll have to start remembering the bags before winter though. Bagging groceries in the driveway at -30 will be a pain.

  2. This is becoming an increasingly large pet peeve of mine: Why take a freakin’ bag when we don’t NEED one? I wanted to just add that you don’t need to go out and buy a tote specifically designed and engineered for groceries – just look through your closet and drag out all those cloth book/convention/free gift totes you never use.
    Very good breakdown of all the reasons why plastic bags suck, btw.
    Disposable things in general suck… but we’ve already gone over that. 😉

  3. Along with the 2% curbside recycling rate in Las Vegas, I am sure that plastic bag recycling rates are probably even lower. Using canvas totes is really easy and people ALWAYS take notice. I don’t know how many times people have asked me what the totes are for…I thought it was pretty obvious. Thank you for writing about this. Hopefully if more people start minimizing their use of plastic bags, it will catch on and we can start reducing the amount of waste added to our landfills.

  4. Absolutely! I have become something of a bag fanatic this year. In Las Vegas it seems to always get stares and weird looks if you don’t want a bag or if you bring in your own. But I just try to smile and respond patiently with kindness and truth. I think it’s just one of those things were if someone does something out of the ordinary it causes people to question their own choices (or their ability to go through life without questioning their own choices).

    Also, I wanted to add on to what Natalie said that you don’t have to buy a “special” bag for this. The tote pictured above is one I got to use as a purse but it was too big and then when I started using my own bags for groceries I realized how perfect it was for that (it holds more than two of my other canvas bags)!

    Finally, I forgot to mention above that you can get a store credit (usually 5 cents) with using your own bags and that can add up. Most stores in Las Vegas don’t get asked for it often enough for it to be automatic so you have to ask most of the time. But the ones that do (and that includes major chain grocery stores) will do it no problem once you ask.

  5. I have a question: I’d started taking all those plastic grocery bags and putting them in the plastic recycler bin. After all, I reasoned, they’re plastic. Republic took them, but I’m still not sure if they ended up being recycled.

    In the meantime, I’ve started using my own bags, too. I may even buy those eco-cotton string bags.

    And I’ll have to dig out those old totes, too. You’re right . . . not only do the groceries look great, the straps are much sturdier.

  6. I decided to comment again because I’m a tote-bag nerd. In Montreal (where I am now, readers), people use reusable grocery bags all the time. When I first got here, I thought, “Oooh, what a green city I live in.” But then I found out that it’s a new phenomenon. Point: The more people who do it, the more people who will see and go “Oh, that’s a possibility,” and eventually a lot of people will be doing it, even in Vegas. 🙂

  7. Republic Services won’t recycle the bags. You can put them out front, and they will take them, but they don’t collect enough of the bags for it to be worth it, besides the bags being difficult for the company to package into neat bundles like they do the paper, tin and aluminum collected. Bags picked up by the recycling truck end up at the landfill. However, I have dropped off plastic bags at the entrances of Albertson’s and Walmart. My understanding is that they will load up the bags in their empty trucks after the shipment is unloaded.
    I absolutely agree on limiting our bag use. At grocery’s in Germany, there is charge for plastic bags (about .50 last I checked).. So most people invest in canvas bags or wicker baskets.

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  9. I can’t wait until more people start bringing their own bags. It only makes sense.
    The worst is when you aren’t quick enough at the checkout counter and the clerk has already bagged your one or two items. You mention you don’t need a bag and they just dump the bag in the trash. Why!?!

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