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January 8, 2011 / MrsH

Bags, bags, bags

Tonight after going grocery shopping, I surveyed the pile of stuff in my trunk, which was supposed to represent only 1/4th of my monthly grocery budget.  I looked down on a sea of packaging, and was struck by my wastefulness.

During check-out, the kind elderly lady bagging my grocery explained, apologetically, that she’d double-bagged a few of the heavier items.  A quick glance told me that all my items were considered heavier.  I nodded.  “Well,” she continued, “some people get really PO’d by it, and it’s not like I don’t trust these bags, but, well…” conspirationally now: “I don’t.”  “I suppose we should be bringing our own bags if we feel that way,” my response came quickly.  She didn’t catch on to the use of my but I did.  A brief conversation ensued between the cashier (owns reusable bags but forgets them), the bagger, and me.  Since it was after 9pm already I just wanted this exchange to end, thinking about planetary responsibility and waste were not on my evening’s agenda!

I’ve always disliked, strongly, the task of taking the groceries in from the car to the kitchen.  Tonight, that aversion was heightened as I stared at the sea of plastic bags in my trunk.  Sure, we reuse them as trashbags around the house, dirty diaper receptacles, and even give them to the library where they always thank us profusely.  You see, on a rainy day, the patrons like to keep their books dry, and these bags are provided for that purpose.  What I realized tonight is that all of these purposes can be met in other ways, without plastic bags.  Which means that I can’t really feel good about “reusing” them if my “reusing” is actually something for which I wouldn’t have used a plastic bag if it wasn’t so available, so convenient.

I wonder whether the bagger or cashier will recall our conversation when I show up with my freshly sewn stash of cloth bags next week.

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