Jan 16

What will we do without plastic bags?

In the wake of the waste board’s decision this week, I am trying to envision life without free plastic bags.

It’s not so much a brave new world as a humble old one, like we’re stepping into a time machine back to the 1970s when the potential to carry your entire load of groceries — 10 bags, one on each finger — was nothing more than a futuristic fantasy.

Remember those paper bag days? You could only carry one or maybe two at a time and if the bottom got a little damp, watch out. There go the eggs, all over the kitchen floor.

On the bright side, we also didn’t have a patch of garbage the size of Texas, roaming like the Blob across the Pacific Ocean.

These are the kinds of sacrifices one must make in the name of convenience.

But carrying 50 pounds of food in one load isn’t the only benefit we’ll soon be losing.

What about the myriad household uses recycled plastic bags now serve?

The amount of cat litter and dog poop we export from our household in a given week alone justifies the existence of free plastic bags.

That poop’s not going away, so now we’ll just have to buy disposable bags.

The solutions offered by supporters of the ban aren’t thrilling me much either.

So stores can still offer paper bags, but now we’ll be forced to pay 10 cents a piece for the privilege of using something that today is free.

I don’t have to fork over any cash for paper at Trader Joe’s now, and at Food 4 Less, I have a choice, and both are gratis.

And then, even if I decide to buy the bags, how do I know how many I’ll need?

Do we guess and pay in advance? Do we wait and have to carry change around to drop in a cup depending on how many we end up using? Maybe we’ll have to swipe our credit cards twice!

Even in this post-plastic world, why should we have to pay at all?

Because all of these annoying mitigating clauses have one ultimate goal: to push people away from disposable bags entirely, so that one day we’ll all be roaming the streets looking like those two bag monster protesters, except our arms will be filled with the various resuable versions we’ll need for all of our shopping.

Think about that.

A trip out on a half-day of errands will require some substantial advance planning, to ensure you have all the proper receptacles in which to schlep your purchases home.

Small reusable bags, big reusable bags, reusable bags for frozen food, reusable bags for leaky raw chicken, cushioned reusable bags for glassware, reinforced reusable bags for hardware, reusable bags for clothes.

When will it stop?

When someone in the industry comes up with a better idea, like how about affordable lightweight biodegradable disposable bags?

The people at SunChips were all over this a couple years ago, save for the little problem that their version crinkled at the decibel level of a passing freight train.

Surely we can find a way to retain this minor luxury and reduce our landfills at the same time.

It shouldn’t be rocket science, but maybe it is.

What do you think? Share your thoughts here.

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  1. Carole

    Remember back when the “Price Club” and Costco used to reuse their cardboard boxes as totes for all the purchases? Perhaps we should go back to that old model?

  2. Gary

    I don’t really care all that much if they do away with the plastic bags, life seemed to be okay before them when there were only paper bags around. What I DO object to is that now we are expected to pay 10¢ for each paper bag we use. No more free paper bags! I’ve got news for you, the bags were never free in the first place and neither were the plastic bags. Items of this nature are part of the overhead operating expense of a business and are paid for by the profits generated by the things you purchase. Anyone who thinks the business is just giving them away for free doesn’t understand how businesses operate. I doubt if you are going to see the price of groceries go down now that they will be charging for the paper bags, it’s just going to be additional revenue. Personally, I will refuse to pay for their paper bags and will just have them put my purchases back into the cart one by one. Then when they ask me if I need help in taking my purchases to my car, I will say yes for once and have them unload everything in to my car, one by one…

  3. Pat

    First World problem. This is a “freedom of convenience” issue. If we can’t be bothered to change something as trivial as how we take our groceries home from the store, even though we know it is for the greater good, then we will never end our societies true problems?
    WHat is the battle cry here? Stop Banker fraud? Prosecute Mortgage Fraud? Fund OUr Schools, Our Future?..nah…Give US Plastic or Give Us Death!! Ridiculous.

    Just like tobacco, no one thinks plastic bags are good for us, but now we are addicted and we just don’t want to stop.

    Take a deep breath, buy a couple reusable bags ( it’ll cost less than a Starbucks or a pack of cigs) and move along…

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