the grocery bag thing (part deux)

Ooh ooh ooh. I have things to say about grocery bags! Yes, yes I do! Egypt? Libya? Fiscal cliff? The price of crude oil? Nope. Not a damn thing. If you mention those things, you can bet I will nod along whilst thinking about something IMPORTANT, like where Wills and Kate are and what she’s wearing whilst (my British word, apparently) being there. But grocery bags? Oh yes, you’d better believe I have something to say about that. I think we could do a whole month-long series in which we write solely about grocery bags. That would be fun, right, Audience?

I was going to try NOT starting out with the idea that one plane flight from Kansas City to California would be the Earth-wrecking equivalent of a lifetime supply of plastic grocery bags for an entire audience of One Direction fans, but then I got lazy and couldn’t think of anything else, so I guess we’re stuck with that.  Plane flights are on the brain anyhow, as I’ve got one coming up tomorrow, and I would certainly rather spend my Earth-wrecking points on a flight rather than a zillion plastic grocery bags.

Still, I’m with you when you say you wish there were no plastic option. It is one of the myriad reasons why I shop at Costco, where they don’t give a hot darn if you have to put each thing into your trunk ONE GIANT TUB OF HUMMUS AT A TIME. Their stuff typically doesn’t fit in those flimsy grocery bags anyway. The four pack of real butter laughs in the faces of those grocery bags.

Sometimes, if you get an extra generous cashier, and they notice how your two tiny children are on the edge of losing it and how your hair isn’t really combed and the clicker thingy on your car keys is broken, has been broken, and will probably remain broken until you finally give in and switch to a minivan with those awesome sliding doors so you don’t have to be stuck unlocking the doors manually LIKE A CHUMP, they might throw a box in the cart to hold all the hummus. But usually you’re on your own. This situation makes me happy because I don’t have to endure the guilt I always suffer at the grocery store for forgetting my bags. There are no bags, thus there is no guilt. My punishment fits the crime, and I’ll try to remember bags next time. (Side note: I never remember bags. I could count on one hand the number of times I have remembered bags, and not one of those times has been at Costco. Thus, while ingenious, your self-imposed punishment would not work as well for me.)

I must confess that I hate the cloth bags. I feel as though the cloth bags have become, for many people, an even more wasteful alternative to the plastic bags. And they feel like what evil would feel like, if, you know, you could touch evil. Here’s why: Like you, and many of our readers, I have a large stash of the cloth bags. Most of them have been given to me as freebies in stores or by friends. I MAY have purchased one or two at the beginning of the craze, or because they were cute. Some of these bags I have used only once or twice. And to be honest, I’ve got plastic Target bags that get WAY more play than that.

The cloth bags are on sale everywhere. Wherever anything is sold. And I will have to check with the Department of Materialism and Excess, but I think that flies in the face of their purpose, which was to REDUCE waste. Especially when our informal poll of readers has proved that most of us have a huge stash of those stupid bags and only the very best, most good-hearted, pure, and childless remember them on a regular basis.

Similarly, I was just listening to a story on NPR about how, since the Prius, fuel emissions have actually gone up. This is because Prius owners (not including you, of course, Mer) tend to drive more, as the consequences of driving (i.e. the price) are lower. The author of the book (sorry—I don’t know EITHER the name of the author nor the title of the book. I even Googled it. Yikes. That is some crappy journalism. Me rite blog.) said that, in reality, the most environmentally friendly vehicle would be an old beast that got five miles to the gallon, because the only thing that really motivates us not to drive is the cost of driving. He argued that one of the best years on record was at the beginning of the current recession: because people were broke and gas prices were high, we all found it within our hearts to be a little more nurturing to our beautiful home planet.

What I deduce from all this is that being broke or cheap or just actively resisting the urge to buy stuff is just as good a way to save the planet. Maybe better than buying all the stuff they market to environmentally minded consumers. So if they give you plastic bags, use them as trash can liners and feel vindicated because you are now SAVING an actual trash can liner. Bam! And I won’t even bring up what you should do with those tiny ketchups. #saveatomato

Now, I realize that this post is very stream of consciousness and not making a whole lot of sense to anyone who is reading oh look a squirrel. BUT, my point (I think) is that Wills and Kate have a way bigger carbon footprint than I do. So there, Royals. You should think about that.

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8 thoughts on “the grocery bag thing (part deux)

  1. I love this. I don’t think I mentioned this in my comment on Maria’s post, but I DO get plastic at the store just because I have two bathrooms, with small trashcans, that need liners And the plastic bags are free, whereas the liners are not. And it makes me feel good to reuse them, since everyone DOES give me death glares when I leave the grocery store with 12 of them. My bathroom trashcans need liners because I put things like toilet paper with poop streaks on it in them. Why do I do that? Because I’m poor, and my plumbing is bad, and it can’t handle toilet paper. I also drive as little as possible (though I have a car somewhere in the middle of a gas guzzler and a holy Prius) because I’m poor, and can’t afford to fill up as often as Driving a Lot would require. Also, when it comes to energy and the environment in general, I keep my heat and AC lower and higher, respectfully, than a normal person. Not because I care about the environment. But because I’m POOR and can’t afford to heat or cool my house to reasonable, comfortable levels. Do you see a theme here? Do you understand why I resonate so wholly with this post? In short, thanks for the shout-out to the poor people. Our top motivation might not be saving the earth, but it gets the job done just as well as all the people who spend all that money to save it too.

    PS – at first I thought your “Wills & Kate” was a typo, until you did it a second time. and then I loved it. but also wished you’d said Willz & Kate. 🙂

    • It sucks that you can’t edit a comment for typos/mistakes. I meant “respectIVEly, not respectFULLY! I knew I was doing it wrong, but my brain was not working and I was on a train of thought (as you can see) that I wanted to finish. How embarrassing.

  2. This post made me laugh about a thousand times. Also, this sentence is maybe the best sentence ever: “Sometimes, if you get an extra generous cashier, and they notice how your two tiny children are on the edge of losing it and how your hair isn’t really combed and the clicker thingy on your car keys is broken, has been broken, and will probably remain broken until you finally give in and switch to a minivan with those awesome sliding doors so you don’t have to be stuck unlocking the doors manually LIKE A CHUMP, they might throw a box in the cart to hold all the hummus.”

  3. While I am no expert on the whole bag issue, I know a couple of things..1. Costco, though better than other stores I would guess, has its share of garbage. For example, when you get 4 pounds of butter at Costco, it’s all wrapped in an additional layer of plastic. 2. Clothe bags are not a larger waste than plastic, even if you forget to use them most of the time. The clothe bags are biodegradable. The plastic ones affectively don’t. In 100 years the plastic will still be clogging the landfill. So, yay for cloth bags, even if you only use them 2% of the time. 🙂

    • You make a good point regarding the biodegradable nature of the cloth, Bekah. I (QUITE OBVIOUSLY. ha) am not an expert in this field, either. I think the point I was trying to make is how our consumer culture tends to destroy our best efforts at wasting less. I will try to find more love in my heart for cloth bags, though. I promise.

  4. Great response. I agree completely with this line, “because the only thing that really motivates us not to drive is the cost of driving.” I felt actual guilt at the grocery store today when they bagged everything in plastic, so perhaps I will change my ways before the city of Austin forces me to!

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