Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The bags, they are a changing


Images-6Were you one of those people who, years ago, brought your own bag into stores?  Typically these bags were made out of canvas or some other collapsable material, and cashiers loathed them...and you, for having brought the dang thing through their line. 
If you were ahead of your time, the current bag-friendly climate feels like sweet vindication. Finally you’re encouraged--sometimes even financially rewarded--for eschewing both paper and plastic. 
It might seem like a small change, but when we are reminded that the US uses 100 billion plastic shopping bags, that over 100,000 marine animals die every year from ingesting or becoming entangled in the bags, and that these bags contribute to the infamous Pacific Ocean gyre (and the lesser-known Atlantic gyre)-- then every time you carry your own bag, you carry a little bit of hope and change. 

Do you take your own bags to the store? If not, why not?

11 comments:

  1. Here in Russia they've got that covered. For the longest time plastic bags weren't really a thing, and during the shortages everyone carried an "avos'nik"- a net bag that collapsed into nothing in your pocket but could expand to hold anything you might find, since you couldn't ever afford to come back later.

    Now, you have to pay for any plastic bag  you get. They used to be incredibly sturdy, and many still are, so that they can be re-re-reused. You usually pay about 5 rubles per bag. Seeing as I just bought a good-sized package of tasty cookies for 20 rubles, that's not an insignificant price. Most people keep a bag wadded up somewhere on their person to save money.

    Sturdier and more fashionable plastic bags abound, as well, and are generally used to carry anything that doesn't fit into your purse or murse. There seems to be no stigma to this, and I personally was heartbroken when my perfect-sized pretty plastic bag, which I used to carry a couple of oversized notebooks, was torn to shreds in a mass exodus from a train.

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  2. i always take my own bag. i am addicted to the nickels they give back. and i can't stand not carrying something fashionable

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  3. Ooh, interesting stuff here, thanks Aubra! I was in Japan almost 30 years ago and at the time we were agog at the NOISY, crinkly plastic bags that were given out at every shop. Within a few years, they were in America too. 

    You can follow Aubra's adventures in Russia at http://www.uptheglasshill.com/

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  4. Aha, grocery bag as fashion statement! Of course! I hadn't quite figured that out yet (being rather slow on the whole style-thing...just ask my teenaged daughter...)

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  5. Not only do I carry my own bags, I try to look askance, at those who don't!  Not really, but I do wonder about their awareness factor.   Where I shop, I don't see very many plastic people anymore.  Mostly I'm excited to see so many in the younger generations take up the practice.  

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  6. As a knitter, I usually carry a monster tote bag, so if I have to run into the store for just a few things, they can go into my purse.  I have to be careful about getting everything out.  Kiwis like to hide squashily in corners for days at a time.

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  7. Thanks for tackling this issue! I really don't see any justification for using plastic bags, at all. It often doesn't register with the cashiers (no pun intended) down here that someone wouldn't want one to put their stuff in a plastic bag. I've had to politely say 'no bag' twice, and then take my stuff out after they still didn't get it. Maybe going through that a few times will get the point across. Anyway, to answer the question, sometimes I don't bring my own bags to the store, sometimes it's a box instead.

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  8. My friend and I were at the grocery store and she  had some bags in her purse to re-use. She handed them to the bagger and he went to throw them away, saying, "I'll give you new bags." She said, "no, I want to use these ones!" He looked confused, but used hers anyway and then we left. She tried to explain it to him, but we left knowing he thought we were "crazy."

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  9. Ha! I've had the same experience of denying bags that the cashier keeps trying to give me. These days I find cashiers here in Oregon to be more responsive...but not always.

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  10. And by the way, David's blog, Living Alongside Wildlife, champions animals that often get a bad rap--amphibians and reptiles. And if you receive one of those emails with a photo of someone hoisting a crazy-big  dead snake, meant to scare the heebie jeebies out of you, send it on to David. He'll debunk it if it's a fake (which they frequently are).  
    Check out his blog at http://davidasteen.blogspot.com

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  11. A few small towns in northern New South Wales near where I live have gone 'plastic bag free'. The retailers have all agreed to this. They supply cardboard boxes that they have used for free. In my home town in South Australia, you have to pay for any plastic bags if you want them. In that state, you also get 5 cents or 10 cents refund if you return drink containers to the store. Should be more of it!

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