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?


JP's MOM said...

Plastic, for a few reasons. One W*lm*rt doesn't offer me the choice. Two the plastic kind are the perfect size for my under the sink trash can.

I like to think I am being eco friendly since we do not buy trash bags. We just use the ones we get from the groceries. Once they are full they are tied shut and placed in the big trash can.

the Schusters said...

I say neither! Reusables are the way to go! I can fit all of my groceries for the week in 3 bags (verses the 500 plastic bags it used to take). They have handles, so you can throw them over your shoulder or arm. AND, they are much more sturdy than the plastic bag. Stores are even starting to give discounts if you bring your own bag. Sweet little Noah always says when we check out "I brought my own bag." Have I scarred my child?

Celeste said...

I'm bi-saxual when I don't have my reusables.

Canvas totes are the way to go. They can load them up with tons of heavy items so there are much fewer bags. And putting them over your shoulder is awesome! They also serve many other functions-- like when I clean out my car and need to haul all of the random toys and clothes that have accumulated, I just load up my canvas totes.

That being said, I used to work in a grocery store, and we HATED using paper bags (paper cuts!), and REALLY hated reusable bags because they don't stand on their own (like plastics in their holder) and are a pain to fill. So if you are wanting to make your bagger happy, go with plastic.

I totally understand the green-judgement guilt! I used to have a giant Navigator and refused to go to our local hippy health food store because I felt like they were judging me for my gas-guzzler American greed car. Now that I have my minivan I can show my face there again.

Janelle said...

You kill me! So does Celeste.

linds w said...

I say plastic! It's easier to carry all 20 bags on two arms than to continually exercise my legs [though they need it] and walk back and forth to the vehicle in which I'd rather have no more interaction. Needless to say, I agree with you, and the baggers should assume plastic unless otherwise specified. =)

Alana said...

Well, I wouldn't have used the same terminology as Celeste, but I'm with her :-)

Celeste said...

Future and a Hope,

I am stopping by to reminisce about the good times we had before you left us a little over a year ago.

Remember when you introduced me to Frank? What a good virtual meeting we had. Oh, you remember that time when you talked so sweetly about Austin on his birthday?

And how could I forget about the time you gave a Starbucks gift card to Shelly instead of me?!

We had some good times. Though we may never get answers as to why you died from SBDS (sudden blog death syndrome), we can still celebrate your memory.

Rest in Peace.