I’m sorry about the bags….

I’m sorry about the bags….

Those damned plastic bags.  Boy, I remember well when those became the rage at the grocery store.  I hated them!  I hated the way they just hung there, jumbling all your groceries against each other.  I hated the way they fell over when you sat them down in your car and all your groceries rolled around on the floor.  I hated the way they sounded (and I had a cat that used to love to chew them so I know that sound really really well).   But most especially I hated the way they blew down the road and got caught in the branches of trees – flapping and flapping there – some sort of sick banner set out in tribute to our inability to treat the earth gently.  I really truly hated them.

And being the kind of person that is rather known for “telling you how I really feel”, one day I walked into the office at work and accosted the office manager with my hatred of plastic grocery bags.  I ranted and railed and raved.  He was amused.  He could not for the life of him understand what I was so excited about.  I was exasperated.  I spluttered and explained it again.  He was still nonchalant about the whole thing.  I left in disgust.

Today, there are places where those plastic bags are banned.  They are literally against the law.  I love that.  And if they aren’t banned, it’s at least likely that you’ll see reusable shopping bags for sale right beside the cash register – so it’s as easy to purchase one on an impulse as it is to buy a pack of gum, or a copy of People magazine, or the National Enquirer, on a last minute whim.  One local health food store in Brunswick, Maine: Morning Glory Foods, even keeps a basket near the register for a “bag swap” – it works kind of like a penny cup – Need one?  Take one.  Got one?  Leave one.  I find this a fantastic idea – good spirited, eco-friendly, sort of a “share the wealth” concept.  And I’ve left bags there – both paper and the reusable kind – but there must be a lot of people out there like me – because lots of times, you hit the checkout, and the basket is empty.

Lately it really grates on my nerves that if you aren’t ready with your reusable bag, the baggers mostly don’t wait to ask you “paper or plastic?” anymore – they just sort of assume that plastic is the bag of choice.  Many times I have un-bagged and re-bagged my groceries right there at the checkout, leaving the now intractable wisp of plastic bag quivering and floating there on the checkout counter – explaining that I hate the plastic bags and while I would really rather be using a reusable bag, at least a paper bag that knows how to get soggy and mushy and fall apart in the rain and begin to decompose is better than those hideous plastic things.

And speaking of reusable bags – for a long time now I have made it a practice that if I forget my reusable bags – I buy one.  Every time.  No excuses.  It’s only a buck, and it matters.  I keep hoping that one day this will teach me to remember to bring the bags – which too often don’t make it back out to the car between grocery runs, or I stop off on the way to/from somewhere else in an attempt to save the gas by combining trips and don’t have them with me — but so far what seems to have happened is that I have a gargantuan collection of reusable grocery shopping bags that are never where I need them.

With all that said – you can be sure that when my partner walked in today, heavy laden with a veritable cornucopia of wonderful organic food for our Thanksgiving feast – and from one of the best places to buy wonderful organic food that there is: Whole Foods Market, I was thrilled.  But they arrived in four double-bagged paper shopping bags.  About that I was dismayed.

So when we had put this embarrassment of riches away into the cabinets and rearranged the contents so that everything would fit in the refrigerator around the organic turkey, I looked down at all these paper shopping bags sitting there on my kitchen floor, and I shuddered to think about how careless we are about our planet and I marveled at how easy it ought to be to remember that you need to take a bag to go shopping but how hard it turns out to be to put into practice, and in a bad bag moment, inside my head, I said to the Earth — “Geez.  I’m sorry about the bags.”

PS – Many thanks to Jimmy for bringing the makings of a bona fide feast all the way from Whole Foods today – and no slam on him about the bags, half of those bags have gone to the store and back 3 or 4 times by now.  So obviously this is my particular failing to conquer and one day – one day I will get it.

Thanks for listening!

— Christy Hemenway

(c) 2010 Christy Hemenway      www.goldstarhoneybees.com

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