I do about 75% of the grocery shopping for us these days … though that may shift a bit more to Andie now that she’s working full time again. But since we have been in the bad habit of over-buying and throwing a lot of stuff away, I’m trying to go more often and buy less each time. Now I probably spend more money that way, just because I’m in the store more often, but it also meant that our garage was filling up with plastic grocery bags, and something had to be done.
I remember when the plastic bags first became available. Back then, when shoppers were expecting paper grocery bags, the ubiquitous question became “Paper or Plastic?” The plastic bags were easer to carry, due to the nice handles, and they’re MUCH less expensive for the store. Now, it has become “is plastic OK?” And I’ve finally learned to say no.
Regular readers of this blog will know that I’m not any environmental wacko. In fact, I have a pretty healthy skepticism about the motives of the so-called “Environmental Movement”. That being said, I DO understand that this is the only planet we have, and it’s incumbent on me to do what I can to help keep it healthy. And that brings me to canvas grocery bags.
They’re available just about everywhere now, emblazoned with the store logo. I regularly carry around at least two from Publix and one from Whole Foods in Ft. Lauderdale. And as long as I can remember to get them out of the trunk of the car, they’re great. But when I don’t have them, I run into situations like I did today.
I had to stop at Publix for a piece of salmon (Andie had PEO, on which I’ve posted before), so I got to cook fish. I might have gone to Fresh Market, where the selection is better, but I didn’t feel like taking out a loan for a piece of fish, so I settled for salmon at Publix.
When I got to the store, stopping after work, I realized I’d left all my canvas bags at home … having stopped at the store yesterday afternoon as well, and having used one at the Farmers Market on 3rd street Saturday morning. So, I was resigned to plastic bags. I’d forgotten how the kids who work at grocery stores today bag with plastic.
Grocery store baggers had to think about how they put things in the bag. It’s coming back a bit with the growing popularity of canvas bags, but today, I didn’t have those.
There was a thunderstorm brewing, and the kid bagging groceries in the lane I chose seemed to be more interested in the storm than my stuff. Twice, he just vanished from his station to look out the window, and the girl running the checkout lane had to take over the bagging.
I had maybe 10 items. One was an 8 pack of paper towels that wasn’t going in any bag. Until I stopped the cashier, I was on my way to having 4 plastic bags for 9 items.
I stopped her as she put the quart of milk in one bag and the dozen eggs in a separate bag. “Don’t give me all those plastic bags to fly around my garage”, I told her. She looked at me like I was an alien.
“Most people don’t want stuff in the same bag”, she said, as she tried to determine how to put two things in a bag. “They won’t be in there that long.” I told her. I wound up down to three bags for my 9 items.
As I headed to the door, I stopped short of the outside, and consolidated everything down to one bag, and put the rest in the bag recycling just outside the door. They hadn’t made it more than 30 feet from where the bagger peeled them off the rack, but I didn’t care. I probably have 100 out in the garage as it is.
I’m not trying to be disparaging of the girl running the checkout and bagging at the same time. It’s how she’s been trained. I do think that grocery stores should do more to encourage people to use the canvas bags. Publix charges 99 cents for a canvas bag. Why? I’m sure Publix pays a nickel for each bag, if that. For the good of the environment, not to mention the savings on plastic bags, they should be giving them away and giving people a few cents off their grocery bill to use them. Then, they wouldn’t be flapping in the trees after a big storm or flying around the streets or cluttering up my garage … or just moldering in a landfill. I understand that people use them for small trash can liners, and to clean up after their pets when they walk their dogs, but that doesn’t require a dozen bags every time you have 15 items at the store.
So if you’d like to do something to help your little corner of the planet, why not bite the bullet and pick up a few canvas bags … and remember to take them into the store from the trunk of the car.