Thursday, November 15, 2007

Bag lady, reuse me

I bring my own bags to the grocery store with me when I go to pick up a few things. I feel good about doing this and I would like to expand my use of byo bags but the stores themselves are holding me back. Retailers don't make it easy. If I hand them a bag, most clerks are either at a loss or they think that they need to jam everything into one bag regardless of size or weight. The cashiers seem to wonder why is this crazy person handing me a bag? You don't want this perfectly good plastic bag that I have here? Even at the Farmer's Market they want to put my produce in plastic! As a result, I tend to keep this to either small trips or self-check out trips.

The other problem that I have is me. I stopped in Staples the other day to pick up two things for DH's home office. I had a bag with me. The clerk put my purchases in a plastic bag before I had a chance to hand over my own bag. ARG!

In addition, I sometimes have a hard time remembering to bring them in, particularly when I am in a hurry. For example, today I ran an errand at lunch. The bags are in the car. I went into the store, found what I wanted, paid for it and only then, as the cashier was handing me a bag, did I recall that I should have brought a bag in with me. I need to continue to work on this even though I've beene at it for a while. In fact, it was one of my 2006 Goals (I don't do resolutions, I just set goals. My goal setting is not tied to the beginning or end of the year. It's more fluid than that.). What I wrote then:
I think that it would be good for me to start using reusable grocery and/or produce bags -- maybe not for my "big" shopping trip but for the little ones that I do between times. I think that would be something good for me to work on.

Paper versus plastic? That's a false dichotomy, the correct answer is neither! Both paper and plastic bags consume resources and will eventually end up in the landfill. Just the Thing to Carry Your Conscience In:
Americans throw away 100 billion plastic bags a year, recycling less than 1 percent of them, according to the Worldwatch Institute, an environmental research and advocacy group in Washington.

In addition, it is clear that recycling alone is not the answer. Most sources agree, only 1-3% of plastic bags are recycled each year and only about half of paper bags are recycled. Seldom recycled, plastic grocery bags face bans in S.F.:
Less than 1 percent of 100 billion plastic bags tossed each year get recycled.

Up next, working on bringing my own travel mug when I go for coffee.

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

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