Q13 FOX Season of Giving

Making the switch from plastic to reusable bags

Plastic grocery bags are seen in the back of a car. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

SEATTLE — There are over 300 cities in the United States that have banned single-use plastic bags, according to Forbes.

Over two dozen of those cities are in Washington and Oregon.

The experts at PEMCO Insurance said since Seattle banned plastic bags in 2012, it’s kept over a billion bags out of landfills.

“So, that number is so astronomically high because they are notoriously hard and expensive to recycle,” said Erin Gross, a PEMCO Insurance Agency Manager. “That means only about three percent of bags even get a second life after carrying your groceries from the store to your home. ”

Single-use plastic bags are hard on the environment and marine life. Gross said whales are accidentally taking in a much as 171 bits of plastic everyday.

Reusable bags are a great alternative to plastic bags. A lot of people use these at the grocery store.

If you've never used one, here are some tips on how to make the switch:

  • Choose a bag style you'll use
  • Use them consistently
  • Carry them in the car, but out of sight
  • Wash and color code to avoid contamination
  • Minimize packaging for the things you buy

"Just as you might have different cutting boards for different types of food, you want to make sure you are doing the same for your canvas bags," said Gross. "So, maybe have one that's dedicated for meat, maybe one for produce and every once in a while just toss those in the washing machine just to make sure that they are staying clean."

Last month, a group of lawmakers, advocates and representatives from local grocers and the Woodland Park Zoo announced a plastic bag bill for the 2019 legislative session.

It would ban single-use plastic bags in the state of Washington and impose a 10 cent fee on each paper bag used.