Tuesday, June 13, 2006

String Bags and Inexplicably Irate Baggers

I use string bags (like these) when I go to the supermarket (and sometimes on other errands). They can fit a lot more STUFF, they cut my plastic bag consumption to about 1/3 or 1/2 of what it was before, and they're more comfortable to carry if you're lucky enough to be able to walk to the grocery store. (And if not, fewer trips in from the car!) And of course, they're ecologically friendly.

The trifecta of easy environmental changes (that is, the ones likely to be adopted by people who AREN'T serious environmentalists) are those that protect the environment, cost the same as or less than the conventional alternative, or provide some tangible benefit to your life. Overseeding my lawn with clover, for example, hits this trifecta. It's better for the environment (and for my GRASS, which is greener because of all the nitrogen the clover fixes in the soil!), it cost me all of $5 to seed the entire lawn and now I don't have to apply any fertilizers or weed-killers (I can hand-pull the few that out-compete the clover), and I get a tangible benefit from spending less time caring for my lawn. Clover tops out at three inches and doesn't look as scraggly as grass when it gets there; we seem to be mowing about half as often as before we overseeded. My cast-iron skillet also hits the trifecta: it benefits the environment in two ways, by lasting FOREVER so it doesn't need replacement or wear out (generating trash) and by not using volatile toxic chemicals found in non-stick skillets (well, not as MANY anyway); it is DEAD CHEAP (and will last 10 times as long as a regular skillet costing 10 times as much); and it provides me a tangible personal benefit in that it adds iron to my diet. (Seriously - up to 80% more.) Also, excellent for fending off burglars or as a weight-lifting substitute.

So string bags aren't QUITE the perfect trifecta. They are much better for the environment, and they improve my life in a couple tangible ways, by being easier to carry and by not having the ROAMING HERDS OF WADDED UP PLASTIC BAGS eating my kitchen drawers. Now I have just about enough plastic bags to use as trash-can liners and for when I clean the litterboxes, so that's about perfect. They cost about $6 each and I don't get any serious monetary benefit from them, but some grocery chains give you 5 cents off your order if you bring your own bags, which would add up over time, I suppose.

But I like my string bags anyway. They're brightly colored and lots of people ask where I got them and comment on their cheerfulness and utility. Older women often DEMAND to know where I got them, because, "I used to shop with bags like those when I was young and I didn't know they made them anymore!" Grocery baggers typically like them because they can fit alarming quantities of groceries in a single bag.

But today's bagger looked at my string bags with a DISGUSTED look. She put ONE FOOD ITEM in each bag and announced, "They're full. I'm using plastic."

Uh, okay, lady.

She actually grumbled and groused the ENTIRE TIME I was checking out about how my string bags were stupid and useless, which is a response I've never actually gotten before.

I don't have anything really deep to say about this. Just that I was relatively taken aback! I guess the deep part of the post is the part about the environmental trifecta, so go read that part again.


Help kids learn about the local environment and food supply by donating to the Peoria PlayHouse through the Eyebrows McGee Challenge! Then maybe if any of them work as grocery baggers (to pay for college, maybe), they can be nicer about my string bags.


Mahkno said...

we try to use these sorts of things:


When in Europe, they use these a lot... along with cloth bags. Plastic bags can be had but they charge you for each bag. A dime each, more or less. They certainly will NEVER bag the stuff for you.

Only Cubs doesn't sweat you not using bags. Everywhere else seems to insist on you using a bag.

Mahkno said...

Bah... just look up 'collapsible crate'.

Pammy said...

When I lived in Florida, which is almost rabid in it's recycling efforts, I bought and used a couple big, canvas bags for grocery shopping. I loved them. Except I'd bring the groceries in, unpack 'em...then forget to take 'em with me for the next trip.

I believe I'll order four of the string bags. But ya hafta tell me what store the grousing bagger worked at. Because you just KNOW I hafta go there and use my bags...just to irritate her. hehe

Osthein said...

"But today's bagger looked at my string bags with a DISGUSTED look. She put ONE FOOD ITEM in each bag and announced, "They're full. I'm using plastic."

Er.. No.

If the store doesn't pack for you in your own bags (mine does) so be it, but deciding you'll have plastic when you've clearly indicated you don't want it? That's heading very rapidly into "I'd like to speak to a supervisor now please" territory.

Chabas said...

This is why I bring my bf as a bagger. If he doesn't like my bags, he just brings his own. :)

(and yes, I *am* still around. somewhere. Occasionally.)

HeartShadow said...

my goodness. What a ......

that is incredibly bizarre. Do the string bags fight back with her or something?

(and I bought one once, to try to start the cutting-down process, and I have NO IDEA where it is. More would just add to the confusion. now we shop somewhere that has no bags whatsoever and we just get huge bulkness. my hoarding side is happy)

pollypeoria said...

Everyone in Europe had string bags last time I was there. I wonder why they haven't taken off here. Wonder why more stores haven't started charging for bags.

Eyebrows, why didn't you confront her? I know, why bother, but on the other hand, you are the customer and she is the bagger. They don't even trust her to operate a cash register for heavens sake. Why not put her in her place?

Didn't they have aggressive assh*le attorney class at your law school? Most I know took it first year along with torts and civil procedure.

Bless you for being a kind hearted person, but really, it would be wonderful if you could use your awesome wit to make the jerks of this world think twice about their rude behavior.

Eyebrows McGee said...

Well, first, I save my assholery for the important moments. And second, I have a serious esprit d'escalier (I think that's right) issue, in that I never think of the right funny thing to say until slightly to late.

I'm much funnier in writing than in person!