Sunday, January 24, 2010
paper or plastic?
This has become a almost iconic question that is asked of me each and every time I check out at a grocery store. Paper or plastic?
I want to answer correctly, really I do! But honestly, this is just one more choice to make after a long day of decision making. I have been know to answer "surprise me", but mostly I am simply confused by the question. Can't they just pick for me?
If I answer plastic, I might not be "green" enough. If I say "paper" then I have to haul bags into the house two at a time instead of five per arm. Then fold them up and find a spot to store them. Then clean out said spot every six months when 347 of them have piled up and created a fire hazard. On the upside, with the paper option, I might score a few eco-points with the 16 year old kid who is bagging my groceries. (Read putting the leaking chicken breasts in with my produce.)
Usually, I just say "plastic is fine" - like I need to authorize the use of such an environmentally unfriendly choice - and move on with my life. But I feel judged. I feel a little like I have failed the checker, the bagger, my future grandchildren and the earth at large. It's a bit of a downer really.
In case you think I am not eco-friendly, note that I have an enormous recycle bin (60+ gallons) that we manage to fill each week and we've switched to the new swirly-twirly fluorescent bulbs that take twenty minutes to actually LIGHT a room. (A nice plus for when you are ready to read in bed, have to wait for the bulb to warm up and manage to fall asleep with your book open and glasses on while you wait.) We even have new energy-efficient appliances. Sure, there is more I could do, but I am not unaware of the issues.
Perhaps one solution to my paper or plastic dilemma is to go buy the reusable tote bags and load my weekly supplies into my personal shopping bags. This would at least save me from having to explain my views on the environment to my friendly neighborhood bag boy!
Ultimately, I would like ALL stores to change to the following and potentially GLOBAL policy: Just assume that we want plastic bags until you hear otherwise. Simple.
Thank you for allowing me a forum in which to vent my views on this most important issue.
So what about you? Paper or plastic?