A plastic bag in the hand is better than one in the trash.

Today, like so many of you, I had an errand to run.  It was a 5 minute trip into the drugstore for a couple items and (perish the thought!) I DIDN’T take my reusable bags in with me.

Before you start booing me, it was simply because I was buying a few small items and I knew I could just carry them out by hand.  Simple as that, right?  Well, not so quickly.

As the cashier started scanning my items, I got distracted by my ringing cell phone and didn’t get to tell her “no bag, please.”  When I came back to earth, I realized that she had put everything in a plastic bag that she placed on the counter top.  When I said “oh, I’m sorry.  A bag isn’t necessary.  I can carry them out”  she took them out of the bag, handed them to me and (deep breath)…threw the bag in the trash.  I…was…amazed.

I quickly told her that she didn’t need to throw it away and her rebuttal was that it was already “used” and too hard to put back on the rack.  In an instant my whole purpose was defeated.  The bag I chose NOT to take was sitting in the trash can.

So, I asked her for the bag. She looked at me blankly, handed me the bag and, I’m fairly certain, she thought I was insane.

At least I knew I could take the bag to be recycled.  But what a waste.  It all goes back to my frustration with lack of store policy and training that teaches cashiers to be responsible. And for the love of Mother Earth, I nearly pass out when I see someone double- or tripled-bagging with plastic!

No matter how many glares and stares I get from cashiers, I won’t be responsible for helping to create plastic bag trash.  Just look at what it creates.  These are sad visuals I hope no one forgets the next time they have that choice.

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10 thoughts on “A plastic bag in the hand is better than one in the trash.

  1. I would love to see the US (or even individual states) try going without plastic bags for a week. Or, even a DAY!
    Pick a date (coincide with Earth Day, perhaps, though I’d like it to happen sooner than that), and all businesses do without plastic for the day, encouraging people to buy reusables, bring their own, or carry their purchases in-hand. Maybe places that already offer canvas bags could offer a promotion to get a free reusable bag if you shop on that day.

    Just thoughts…we gotta do better at this.

  2. I read your posts almost everyday.. I enjoy them. I like this one as I too have had many crazy looks from cashiers. To the point where I created a ‘business card’ – now when I get the strange looks – I hand over a card and suggest they visit my blog as it may explain my behaviour. Since I have implemented this – the responses from cashiers have been much better and I even recieved a “Thank you for this – I will check it out.” So hopefully in the process I am educating them too….

    See my blog at http://www.mothersgoinggreen.blogspot.com.

    Jen Ds last blog post..Mother’s going GREEN day 101 – Children’s Eco-Craft

  3. I bet that cashier would look grand with a few plastic bags in her nose.

    Note I said, “a few”. More than one would be good.

    And not only are cities like San Francisco and my current home of Carpinteria out-lawing them, countries are…like Uganda, South Africa and Bangladesh.

    UGANDA AND BANGALDESH ARE OUT-LAWING THEM, BUT THE U.S. ISN’T???

    It’s beyond embarrassing. It’s criminal. Seriously.

    Kevin Charnass last blog post.."Are You Ready, Boots?"

  4. Robert – THAT would be a fabulous and interesting experiment. Then, I would love to see it as a PERMANENT change. We’ve got to start finding ways to ween people off of the plastic obsession!

    Jen D – WOW! Thanks for sticking with me through this! :) (Lovin’ your blog as well, by the way!) And I could just hug you for the AMAZING solution of a “business card”! I love it! Mind if I borrow (steal) that idea?!?!?

    Kev – Yeah, like a few DOZEN!!!! And love every time I hear about a new location outlawing plastic bags. Cities are great, but whole countries is obviously what we’re all going for. The US needs to wake up. Are we getting so used to “convenience” in every aspect of our lives that the majority of us can’t commit to carrying a few reusable bags into the store for our purchase. It IS pathetic…and yes, embarrassing!

  5. Yah know, I really love this blog but I have to admit I’m SHOCKED at your experiences. I grew up in the Northwest – we feel guilty if we don’t recycle. If you’d made a similar purchase in my town (Eugene, OR) you experience would have been radically different. Typically, if I’m purchasing just a few items, the cashier asks if we want a bag. For the most part, they just hand us the receipt and we walk out. What state are you in again? Again, I’m shocked.

  6. utlraspy – first let me thank you for the “I love this blog” comment – – that truly validates my cause! (hugs!) I am in Cleveland, Ohio. I don ‘t want to give a horribly bad impression of “us” — I mean our city has invested in special recycling cans to assure that as many people as possible participate! — but yes…there is definitely a slower progression in the green movement around here. Cleveland people can be rabid about their “causes” — whether it be “green”, our city, the Browns(!) — but I, unfortunately, seem to run into some “delays” in environment causes, but we are definitely moving full steam ahead — check out http://www.gcbl.org/

  7. Well, I admit my emphasis on “shocked” is probably extreme. In retrospect, it seems to be more of a cultural issue. As I say repeatedly, keep fighting the good fight. Teaching your children how to care for the world is clearly an important job. I regret you get harassed a bit as you pave a difficult road but it’s nothing a sense of humor (& perhaps a bit of chocolate) can’t counteract :)

  8. Ultraspy – ABSOLUTELY! Keep fighting the good fight! One of the most energizing things is the way kids embrace the idea of loving the earth. I helped out at my daughter’s school’s Earth Day celebration last spring and I was nearly in tears! And yes….nothing soothes like a sense of humor and A LOT of chocolate! :)

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