This is a guest post from my dad. He’s previously written on the site about the business of relationships and paying off your mortgage. After looking over his post, I think it’s kind of funny how similar it is to a post I wrote about plastic bags back when this site was only a month or so old.
While i’m honeymooning with H on the other side of the world, I’ve got a few posts lined up. Some serious, and some not. I hope you enjoy, and I’ll respond to comments, etc when I get back!
I recently was reading the newspaper and found an article that said the city of Los Angles had banned plastic grocery bags, and even some of the communities in Colorado where I live are considering it. To encourage people to bring their own bags, some communities banned plastic bags and sell paper bags for 20 cents. I was stunned to read in the land of fruits & nuts they finally did something that was long overdue. Los Angeles is one of the largest cities in the country, and typically as larger cities go, others follow. Hopefully, this spreads east from LA like a lot of trends do. Plastic bags are one of the things that never made much sense to me. Back when paper bags were the norm you had so many ways to reuse them other than putting more groceries in them. You could line the bird cage, start fires in the fire place (or when camping) or scoop up the remnants of your dog’s last meal. Although when plastic bags first hit the market, they seemed to be an innocuous item that took some time to displace paper bags.
Eventually, the plastic bags won out and that was all you could get. We had gone from a renewable (and more sustainable) resource with many uses to an item made from oil that we do not have an abundance of. As a person who travels by car around different places out west, I started to notice some years ago that every barb wire fence and tree had plastic bags stuck to them. Not necessarily from people’s carelessness, but they could have been blown out of the garbage pail, not pushed under dirt in time at the landfill, or people just tossing them out. I never paid much attention to the plastic bags until recently when I noticed a lot of the stores were now double bagging everything in plastic. I asked why they double bagged them all the time, I was told that they were making the bags thinner (to be more biodegradable) and because of this, the bags started ripping on the bottom or the sides – naturally, leading to some pretty peeved customers. Those customers complained so we started to double bag everything.
Jeff’s note: I have noticed this as well. Not only do they double bag (I once got a dozen eggs double bagged) but they don’t put anything in the bags either. It seems like they are so afraid of the bags ripping that they put about 8 apples in there and then consider that full. Worse yet, is that they treat the cloth bags the same way.
I asked the clerk if that made much sense to her and she said she never really thought about it much. She just looked at me like I was going to go off on a geezer rant and just she just kept moving. The last straw came for me when one got snagged high up in the tree in my front yard and I had to get a ladder and an extendable saw to get the bag out of the tree.
That was it for me, so my wife and I stared to use reusable bags that we bought and some we got for free when the stores gave them away. We keep several bags in each of our cars and try to use them exclusively to avoid the plastic bags. We have found that is the best way to keep them off the fence lines and out of my trees. We now use heavy duty bags that the clerks do not want to fill up to the top. I have had to tell them to fill them up to the top and just “stuff it all in”. “I can put some in another bag” comes the response and I have to add the “If I wanted a plastic bag, I would have not brought my own bags” reply. I have taken the opportunity to tell the cashiers and people who bag the groceries that they should stop using these but most just smile. The consumer will drive the stores into making a change only when they get feedback for the customers. Please implore your local markets or god forbid you shop at Wal-Mart to stop using these polluting nightmares of a storage device. As for the land that gave us Lindsay Lohan and the “Real Housewives”, I hope this is another “bag” I never have to see again!
Readers: Do you use plastic bags, or have you mostly switched to the cloth reuseable ones? Do you think local governments should ban plastic bags, or do you think that supermarkets and other stores will take the initiative first?