The Infernal Plastic Bag Dilemma

The plastic shopping bag has become a cultural symbol of evil incarnate, used only by those rough and uncivilized types who are too selfish to give a rip about the planet we all must share. Those blue and brown and white sacks tumble across the countryside like so many tumbleweeds. I’m convinced there’s a discarded blue Wal-Mart bag in every locale on the planet. 

Making the switch to the new eco-friendly bags is not as easy as it sounds. If you forget your politically correct and environmentally sustainable bags in the car (I can’t even remember to bring in my coupons half the time) you will be persecuted in certain natural food stores. And if you bring your eco-friendly bags into a “regular” store, you’re liable to earn some weird looks from your fellow shoppers if, like me, you need anywhere between 30 and 50 bags for a grocery trip.

Seriously… have you ever seen someone with a loaded cart using reusuable bags? No, it’s the lady with one loaf of bread and a yogurt and a can of cat food who has the cloth bag that earns a smile from the checker. It is not the mother of teenage boys whose bi-monthly grocery trip requires two carts piled to overflowing.

Whatever happened to those nice brown paper bags? The ones that stand up in the back of the car instead of wilting all over themselves and letting the cans tumble out? The ones that rip and smell weird when they get wet and are great for creating fringed vests and textbook covers ideal for doodling in  algebra class? They’re useful for disguising trashy romance novels at the pool, or bottles of wine, too. We recycled those before recycling was cool!

Now I’m stuck with a giant collection of plastic bags. What shall I do with them besides line the bathroom trash cans and then throw them away a week later anyway? Here’s an idea, from, of course.

 That is a dress crafted from fused plastic Safeway bags. Safeway, the latest in fashion design. Can you imagine what you’d smell like after you wore that for a few hours?

I have to admit (blush) that part of the reason I haven’t switched is because I’m too cheap. You have to BUY those fabric bags, did you know that? The plastic ones are free! And since I’m frequently found counting out my change to cover my grocery bill, adding $50 for enough bags to haul my stash home just isn’t in the budget! Here’s an idea that may appeal to the super-frugal that uses recycled newspaper to create your own bags!

Or if you are into sewing, here’s a link to 35 different patterns for unique and original grocery bags.

I think I have four or five fabric totes around. Somewhere. They lived in the car for a long time, but that didn’t remind me to bring them inside. On a whim I bought a cute little purple parachute nylon version that folds up into itself and goes in my purse. Last week at the local store I had it all ready to go, and then forgot to hand it to the clerk. In a moment of eco-guilt, I handed it to her after she’d bagged my stuff. She sighed. The woman in line behind me glared. And the clerk switched my items from the nasty plastic bag to my friendly nylon “sacque.”
And then she tossed the plastic bag in the trash can under the register.

Maybe I need one of these.
At least it would be hard to forget I had it.

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4 thoughts on “The Infernal Plastic Bag Dilemma

  1. Jamie says:

    brown paper bags are just as harmful to the environment….

  2. Jamie says:

    not to mention paper napkins, paper towels…. disposible diapers.. which i am guilty of using……cloth for the one on the way…. a excellent movie to watch for Eathday tommorrow is "No Impact Man." i don't think i will take it as far as they did in the movie.. but it is an awakening…

  3. patti says:

    LOVE this article! I use the cloth bags, which fill my car. When I forget to carry them into the store, I "punish" myself by walking back out to the car to retrieve them OR getting SOME paper bags, which work for us because we use them to fill our kitchen trash can.

    Keep up the green work!

  4. Georgiana Daniels says:

    LOL, you are so right! I never see anyone with a packed out cart like mine using cloth bags. I try to do my part to be eco-friendly (reduce, reuse, recycle) but I don't go overboard. Thankfully our town is pretty lenient about what can go into the recycle so it makes it easy for busy people to do their part.

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