One tote bag can make a big impact

Together, the simple act of swapping a plastic bag for a reusable one can make a big difference.

Woman and child with tote bag

When you head to the supermarket or nearly any store, there’s a constant. First you pay, then you reach for that ubiquitous plastic bag. Carrying that tote bag instead might sound like a small step, but it’s one we can all do to make a big difference.

The Wall Street Journal reported that stores in the United States use more than 100 billion plastic bags each year -- and worldwide that tally is estimated at between 500 billion and 1 trillion total. The most troubling part is that less than five percent of these bags are recycled in the U.S. -- that’s up to 95 billion bags in the trash system, where decomposition can take hundreds of years.

The simple act of reusing plastic bags you already have or carrying a compact foldable tote can have a massive impact if it becomes a widespread practice. When done on a large scale, this initiative would eliminate the use of hundreds of thousands of plastic bags, which will benefit our planet not just by keeping the bags out of landfills, but also by reducing the greenhouse gasses and power needed to produce the bags in the first place.

Conservation and reducing our greenhouse gas impact on the planet is a key part of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan. We are taking steps to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions – which we plan to halve by 2020. We’re constantly working to improve our processes and ways of working in order to create a brighter future for the planet. Together, our actions make a big difference.

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