April 03, 2008


For the most part, I'm an easy going girl. I embarrass myself regularly, I've been known to watch TV all day {Charlie's Angels marathon}, and I take it upon myself to have a sense of humor with my wardrobe. But once in a while I become fanatical about something; and when I do, it's best just to nod in agreement and let sleeping dogs lie. {I'm the sleeping dog}.
Case in point: my increasing intolerance for plastic bags and the freedom of which most Americans toss them about as though they dissolve into thin air after a week.
My awareness began a few years ago when I could no longer justify saying "paper" at the grocery store. Because there was more talk about clear cutting in the media I chose plastic as the less destructive alternative. But then along came a daily observance of my second religion; one I refer to by three holy letters. NPR.
Thanks to Morning Edition, I learned that it took over 1,000 years for a plastic grocery bag to decompose and was instantly sickened. Think of all the plastic being handed out at grocery and retail stores all over the country. Think of all the double bagging!!
The plastic factor became painfully obvious when Nate and I bought bark chips for the Xeriscaping we did in our backyard. It was described as "clean" but when I found strips of plastic bag, and bits of random broken plastic stuffs, I realized just what it meant to throw plastic away. It doesn't go away. It's always there; stuck in a tree, blowing across the freeway, and shredded up in my bark.
Well, needless to say, I immediately bought reusable bags for groceries and always try to turn down unnecessary bags of any kind at retail check out.
Nate is very familiar with my "if I were king {or mayor, or senator, or president} for a day" moments. They come as a result of someone offending my fanaticism. Someone challenging the very fibers that makes up my organic moral fabric.
A few days ago Nate and I stopped at Harmons for groceries. I even made a special jog out to the car to get the bright green reusable bags, while the bagger waited for me. So she had to know that I was serious about being environmentally responsible, right? Well, I guess not. Nate and I took advantage of a five for $20 meat deal and ended up with five fine looking steaks. At check-out, after I had returned from the car with my totes, the bagger went ahead and put each of the five packs of meat into its own plastic bag and then put all five into yet another plastic bag. It was, as far as I can tell, a labyrinth of plastic so nightmarish I could do nothing but look away. I know there is some code that says meat has to be put in plastic bags, but did the entire process have to involve six bags?
Many European countries simply don't have plastic or paper bags at grocery and retail stores. If you need a bag, you buy a canvas tote at check out or bring your own. Why can't we do the same in America? As a country, why can't we admit that as long as there is a stack of indestructible plastic bags in front of us, we'll use them. If I were king for a day, I'd remove all bags from check out stands. I'd make it impossible to walk away with a gallon of milk {in a plastic jug} double bagged in plastic. If I were king for a day, I'd give everyone these.


In(side) the Loop said...

I'd love it if you were king for a day! I bring my reusable bags too and I'm trying to get better about always remembering. It's totally retraining your train of thought, you know.

I think it's great that so many people are making a point to talk about the need to retrain ourselves. It's super important and it's just the right thing to do!

tim & brandi said...

We have some really nice ones from Trader Joe's. I swear they are so huge that sometimes 1 or 2 bags hold our entire shopping cart full. Anyway, at Trader Joe's when you use your reusable bag, or bring in old paper ones to reuse they let you enter your name into a weekly drawing for a TJ's gift card. Pretty motivating, eh? Also, we just noticed that at Smith's, they take off 5 cents for every bag you bring with you. Hallelujah! It looks like in my little world, at least, things are moving in the right direction.

We need to go shopping sometime - it'd be nice to not be the only one getting the weird look when I tell them, "No I don't need your fancy bag to put my shirt in, I already have one here that will work just fine."


Wildwood said...

Even better than some of the canvas totes are the jute bags. Jute is made up entirely of vegetable fibers and if you wanted, toss one in your backyard and check back a couple weeks later. It will decompose completely! Check out www.jutenotplastic.com. So I guess green is the new pink?!

deidra said...

I had a similar experience at Macey's just last week. I didn't know if the bagger had noticed my bags, so I told her, "I don't need a bag, I have mine here."

To which she told me it was for my meat. If it can co-mingle in my cart without a bag, why can't I take it home without one?!

Jenlj said...

Just take some plastic bags that you already have (or a few pages of old newspaper) with you next time, that way you'll be prepared when they want to wrap your meat. And yes, you do want your meat wrapped. It is not safe co-mingling in your grocery cart or in your canvas bag. The bacteria is already growing on the outside of the plastic wrap.

BTW - great blog, I've been stalking for a while.

People Power Granny said...

Today I took an old purse that I know I was saving for some purpose and cut out elbow patches for my wool sweater. There is so much we can do to reduce wastes in our communities if we just use our heads and hearts. What do you do to reduce wastes in your life? People Power Granny challenges you to keep up with me in reducing wastes while increasing recycling. Mother Earth depends on us, and so do our grand kids. Share what you're doing?