Alternatives to plastic shopping bags include cardboard boxes and reusable shopping bags.
Alternatives to plastic shopping bags include cardboard boxes and reusable shopping bags. FeelPic

Here's how to get the groceries home when plastic bags are banned

COLES and Woolworths announced in June they will phase out single-use plastic bags in the next year. This is good news for the environment.

But now we need a solution to get the groceries from the supermarket to the cupboard at home.

I find the shopping bags handy. I use them as small garbage bags, and they are easy to store and reuse if needed.

But I also know they aren't great for the environment.

At the current usage rate, we as a planet are discarding more than one trillion plastic bags every year.

These bags take more than 1000 years to break down and they release chemicals, polluting the environment.

And after cigarette butts, plastic bags are the most common waste found at sea with an estimated 40,000 pieces of plastic floating in each square mile of the ocean.

The supermarkets' solution is a "heavier" plastic bag that will sting us 15c per use. But what other, more sustainable solutions are available?

ARDBOARD BOXES: Bunnings and IGA have provided the leftover cardboard boxes from products for customers to use to take their purchases home. And this is a great idea. But grocery shopping will require far more cardboard boxes than are available. However, check out the supermarket to see if they have a cardboard box stash.

MESH DRAWSTRING BAGS: These bags are cheap to buy and handy for carrying groceries, particularly fruit and vegetables. They also don't take up a lot of room, so you can cram quite a few drawstring bags into a handbag so they are on hand as needed. The only negative is that wet items can leak through the bag.

OWN CONTAINERS: It is perfectly acceptable to take your own reusable containers from home. The deli sections at most supermarkets are only too happy to seal goods in your containers and place their stickers on the top to process at the checkout. But this can be time-consuming and cumbersome.

REUSEABLE SHOPPING BAG These are currently the most popular option as a replacement for the plastic bag. These bags are relatively cheap, lightweight and heavy duty. They are recyclable but are often not biodegradable. The only disadvantage to these bags is that if they aren't washed often they can carry bacteria.

Jody Allen is the founder of Stay At Home Mum.