Thursday, February 7, 2008

Paper or Plastic?

I'm trying to stop using these because of their effect on the environment and because they take a hell of a lot of energy to create. Once confronted with the evidence of the blight created by the lowly plastic bag, I can't justify accepting them anymore.

Like most Americans, I want to be environmentally conscious. I want to try and do my part but often that wanting lingers in a state of perpetual inertia. I want to do something but I don't want to inconvenience myself too much; then our local A&P made it easy for me. For just $.99 I could purchase these 100% recycled pretty cool bags

Plus every time I use one of my nifty new bags two cents per bag is taken off the register. How cool is that?

I'm doing my part for the earth, end of story right? Nope, I feel like I'm chipping away at the Great Wall of China every time I shop. I just can't seem to get the cashiers to understand that I don't want their plastic bags anymore. I don't want to place my meats in plastic bags before I put them into my re-usable bags. No, I don't want to just put the eggs in the plastic bags. Is there some scientific evidence proving that eggs will not break if placed into flimsy plastic bags? Do cashiers get paid based on the number of plastic bags they manage to use?

When I've had someone help me bagging the groceries they only want to place three items into my bags, fearing that these re-usable bags will disintegrate. Then they whip out the plastic. I beg them to please load up the bags pulling at the straps to illustrate how sturdily constructed they are only to be greeted with skepticism. I'm beginning to feel like Galileo telling the church that sun does not revolve around the earth.

During the holidays, I took my trusty bags to the mall. Why come home loaded with evil plastic? Granted, people wouldn't be able to see a visual display of my shopping itinerary but they would get to see a wonderful photo of an Amazon tree frog. I felt good about my decision until I reached the check-out at Old Navy and announced proudly that I didn't need a bag. The cashier began putting the clothes into a plastic bag, like a robot, asking me if I'd like to receive a 10% discount by applying for an Old Navy credit card. I said no and repeated that I wouldn't be needing a bag. He smiled at me and handed me a receipt and the plastic bag and wished me a Happy Holiday.

Each store seemed shocked by my request to hold on to their bags. One woman at Zumiez, actually got a bit defensive, telling me that mall security would have the right to stop me if I didn't have a bag. I guess I was supposed to quake at this. I smiled and told her that was fine and I still wouldn't need a bag. She hesitated before handing me my purchase. I assured her that other stores did allow me to use my own bags but she seemed full of doubt and mumbled something uncomplimentary. Whatever happened to days of "the customer is always right"?

It's scary when the rest of the world (even China) is cutting down drastically on plastic bag consumption while we American's are proudly walking around with one pack of batteries and a Snickers bar in a plastic bag as we leave the store clueless to the cost of that bag. Sometimes I feel the rest of the world is passing us by. I'm waiting to see which presidential candidate sports their own re-usable shopping bags. I think they might just get my vote.

1 comment:

Mary and Rhett said...

I think it's a slow process, we'll get there eventually.

Buying in bulk saves on energy production and packaging materials.
In our household of six it makes more sense, environmentally and economically to buy #10 cans of tomato sauce, condiments, canned fruit and such.
Have fun on your trek.