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Grocery Chain Introduces Shopping Bags That Dissolve In the Sun

By Maria Cook

Eco-inventions are plentiful these days, and while it is nice to see scientists and independent innovators doing what they can to help the planet, a lot of these inventions don't reach their full potential, due to cost of production and other issues. 

But one important eco-invention is taking off in a big way, thanks to Massachusetts-based grocery chain, Roche Bros. Supermarkets. This store has implemented the use of newly-invented shopping bags that break down and dissolve when exposed to sunlight. The bags, invented and distributed by GXT Green, were invented to be "a cost-saving, sustainable solution" to traditional plastic bags, according to the GXT website. They're called ECOgrade Degradable Shopping Bags, and they couldn't have come at a better time. 

Currently, Americans use around 100 billion plastic bags per year. Laid end to end, that many bags could circle to earth 1,330 times. Plastic also constitutes approximately 90 percent of all trash floating on the ocean's surface, with 46,000 pieces of plastic per square mile. Every year, one million sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals are killed via plastic-related injuries. Like plastic bags, most plastic products—50% in fact—are disposable items that we only use once, and then throw away.

Source: photobos/istock

Enter ECOgrade bags. Though they are made from a material that looks and feels much like plastic, it's actually a combination of organic materials and minerals. The bags are photodegradable, meaning they begin to decompose when exposed to sunlight. Simply place the bags in a sunny spot (preferably inside or in a secure container outside, where they can't blow away) and they will begin to break down within 20 days. After 240 days, they will be fully degraded. 

It's worth mentioning, however, that ECOgrade bags don't require sunlight to break down. In fact, they are fully compostable, can be recycled like real bags, and can also be thrown away. Unlike their traditional, plastic counterparts, they can break down in landfills  within a short amount of time. And the residue these bags leave behind, once broken down, is entirely non-toxic.