A few months ago, our city joined a growing number of California cities and counties and introduced a ban on single-use plastic shopping bags. I understand the reason for the new law. This is a beach town, and the ban is a positive step towards keeping discarded bags off our beach and out of the ocean.
Shoppers here in Surf City now have three options:
- Bring their own reusable bags to the store
- Purchase reusable bags which vary in price from $.99 to $5.99
- Purchase a paper bag made from recycled paper for a .10 “pass through fee”
I’ve been in the habit of toting my reusable bags to the market for quite a few years, but the ban on plastic bags applies to ALL stores: Groceries, Target, Home Depot, Lowes, drug stores, etc.
Overall, it has been a smooth transition, but we’ve had our rough spots. I’ve witnessed some tense confrontations between shoppers and cashiers and baggers. Unfortunately, none of cashiers or baggers are members of the city council, and therefore didn’t pass the ordinance.
I’ve heard shoppers demand to know what is being done with the revenue generated from paper bag sales. (Revenue stays with the store to cover the expense of providing the costlier paper bags.)
I live near a large retirement community. I’ve seen defiant Seniors wheel carts of loose groceries out of the store. Their purchases rattle and bounce across the pavement on the way to the car. Then they pile the loose groceries into the trunk of the car.
What happens next for these stand-your-ground-shoppers? How many trips does it take to get a trunkful of loose groceries into the house?
Seeing this, I wistfully recalled the days of the “lazy man load”: looping the handles of at least (8) plastic bags over each outstretched arm in an effort to get all the groceries into the house in a single trip. We’ve all done it, but why? We’re not Sherpas ascending Mount Everest, we’re merely transporting the load from the car to the kitchen.
I quickly discovered that a full day of errand running requires several bags. This is where my dilemma began.
Maybe it’s just me, and my OCD…. but I feel I need to use store specific bags. I mean, is it acceptable to carry an Albertsons bag into Ralphs? I feel sorta hoity-toity carrying a Whole Foods bag into folksy ‘ole Sprouts. It seems downright gross to put my shiny new purchases from Target into a ratty Safeway bag.
This was getting complicated, so I decided to forgo the store-branded bags altogether – well, except for the freebies – I mean let’s be reasonable.
I went online. Since I hate visual clutter, I had the bright idea to buy bags to match my car. This way my cargo compartment would look mono-chromatic and orderly during a full day of errand running. Hey, you find your bliss, and I’ll find mine.
Then I began to wonder: Could the reusable bags technically be considered fashion accessories? Should they match my outfit? Maybe the should match my shoes? Unsure, I went ahead and bought a few in a bold, black and white toile print. Classic, with a twist.
Luckily, until we sort out the style guidelines, I’m confident a Trader Joe’s bag works as a solid neutral. Like nude patent leather, it goes with everything and you can carry it anywhere. It’s what my Mother would call “transitional.” It is widely accepted as the “go-to” bag. Thankfully, I own a several of these, and a few could be considered vintage gems.
Many of us germa-phobes sanitize our shopping carts with anti-bacterial wipes upon entry into the market. But concerns have been raised about the reusable bags presenting a more serious sanitation issue. Cross-contamination is inevitable. Bacteria and viruses can even be transferred from one shopper’s bag to the next shopper’s bag via the bagger.
Oh you think this sounds crazy? Did you hear about the reusable shopping bag that sickened an entire soccer team in Oregon?
Crap! I may need to just sack everything and start over, because now I need bags that are WASHABLE!
For now, the collection of shopping bags in the back of my car continues to grow.
I’m not living in my car, but I am officially a bag lady.