I Can't Save the World All By Myself (believe me, I've tried)

I was at Target the other day, dropping a cool $60 on some stuff I don’t really need. I told the cashier ahead of time that I didn’t need a bag; I held up my canvas bag for emphasis. After scanning my items, she immediately went to load them in a plastic bag; hey, I get it, force of habit. I intercepted by saying, “No thanks, I have my own bag,” and again showed her my canvas bag. She looked at me like I walked into her store naked and asked her where the microwave popcorn was. Um, hello! Bringing your own bag isn’t THAT uncommon (or it shouldn’t be), and why aren’t cashiers and baggers trained to ask shoppers if they have their own bags? They should at least be familiar with the fact that some people are hippies trying to save the world, right?

I wouldn’t describe myself as crunchy (I didn’t know what that word meant until my hippie sister explained it to me a few years ago and I thought it was great). Actually, my sister isn’t really that much of a hippie. But she works at an environmental non-profit, so she’s basically one by default. We grew up in a household where canvas bags reigned. I don’t think our parents were ahead of the curve, I just think they liked the idea of sturdy bags that wouldn’t wimp out when bringing home massive amounts of food for a family of six. So bringing a bag (or five) when we’re out and about is like second nature for us.

Yeah, up until a few years ago, it was pretty much unheard of. But not anymore. “Going green” is the cool thing to do. And it can help you save money; win-win, right? So why is it that some people are just so out of it? I literally cringe when I see the woman at Rite-Aid double-bag everything. Every. Single. Item. Okay, maybe a gallon of milk needs two bags. A box of tissues does not (and for heaven’s sake, please stop putting only 1-2 items in a bag. Load ‘em up!) And what’s with the customers who need a bag for small purchases, like candy, when they’re holding a purse or gym bag already. Seriously?!

I was so excited when I read this article about the plastic bag ban in San Fran. Supermarkets and pharmacies have had the ban since 2007, but now it will affect all retailers. There will also be a ten cent fee for paper bags, in an effort to urge customers to bring their own bags when shopping. Right on!

According to this article, "Each year across the world some 500 billion plastic bags are used, and only a tiny fraction of them are recycled.” The bags are “urban tumbleweed” and they wind up littering our streets, parks and oceans.

Sure, San Francisco has a rep for being super liberal, but they’re hardly the first city to implement this policy. Countries in Europe and Asia are working hard to pass similar laws. Hopefully seeing the policy in our own country will spark changes across cities in the U.S. Then maybe I’ll stop getting weird looks from the check-out girl at Target. Until then, you can call me as crunchy as you want.


Anonymous said…
Hippie sister, eh?! But I agree...bringing your own canvas bag shouldn't be some crazy thing. I always try to make it funny for the cashier by saying things like "do I get a prize for brining a bag?" and they politely laugh and think "why do I have to help this person". We've got some people interested in canvas bags!
Sarah said…
Anonymous is so crunchy I can hear her Teva's from 3 states away. :)
brigidmc12 said…
There's nothing wrong w/ being a hippie! And I think said hippie prefers her Keane's (sp?) to Teva's lately.