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As I was grocery shopping last week, I did something I have never done before: I bought a reusable bag and used it for my groceries. Now I bring it every time I got to the store and it’s not only good for the environment, but it’s quite easy and the bag I bought holds groceries that would fill five plastic bags.

Most retailers sell reusable bags; Target, Walmart, Publix or any grocery store will have them right at the front check out.

Totebag Factory.com offers six excellent reasons to use them.

1. Conserve Resources – Twelve million barrels of oil are used to manufacture the plastic bags consumed in the United States each year, according to Waste Management Northwest.

2. Decrease Pollution – The effects of plastic on the environment can be devastating. Plastic products — including plastic bags — can take between 15 and 1,000 years to break down, and that’s assuming they even make it into a landfill instead of winding up in water such as streams, rivers or the ocean — or floating around the neighborhood.

3. Avoid Recycling Problems – Yes, you should recycle your plastics. Except for plastic bags: they get snagged on conveyors belts and wheels, clogging the machinery; they can be difficult to separate from other recycled products; or they end up drifting to other parts of the recycling plant — or even end up outside of the plant.

4. Protect Wildlife – More than 100,000 marine animal deaths are caused each year when marine animals mistake plastic shopping bags in the ocean for food.

5. Enjoy Strength and Durability – Unlike plastic bags, reusable bags are unlikely to have their handle tear off or to develop a hole if the corner of a box or other sharp products press into them. Reusable bags are easier to use for both loading and unloading groceries, and your purchases are more likely to survive the trip to and from the store.

6. Save Money – Many stores in the United States now charge customers for plastic bags. While a nickel or dime per bag may not feel like a lot to spend, consider how quickly that adds up for a consumer who uses five or ten bags with each trip to the store. The average American family uses nearly 1,500 plastic shopping bags each year. If each bag costs a nickel, that’s $75 a year you could save on grocery bags!