For the last five years I’ve been actively trying and failing to bring my recyclable shopping bags into the grocery store with me. I carry them in the car and they’re not hard to find, but they almost never make it out of the back seat. It seems that after so many years of not worrying about being green, it’s a hard to change my spots.
Bless those stores who place REMEMBER YOUR REUSEABLE BAG reminders in their parking lot, because that actually jogs my brain and occasionally works. But my usual routine goes something like this.
1. Get into the checkout line.
2. See someone else with cloth bags.
3. Mentally kick myself.
My brain starts to churn – shall I leave this cart and lose my place in line while I run out to get my bags from the car? If I park my cart in a random corner will a store employee think it’s abandoned and put everything away? If I get up to the check stand without recyclable bags will the checker shake her head and sigh because I appear to be eco lazy?
And this is just at my local grocery store, I can’t even tell you how about the stress if I appear sans cloth bags at Whole Foods or some granola type establishment. You just know those people are going to frown. “You’re buying organic food and taking it home in a landfill clogging plastic bag?” Sadly yes, and according to the, What is Your Ecological Footprint? internet quiz, I deserve to be frowned at.
The quiz consists of five (somewhat vague) questions ( example):
I produce: A) A large amount of domestic waste. B) A small amount.
Most of my domestic waste is A) Recycled. B) Not recycled.
Most of? That’s a trick question. I actually recycle quite a bit of my domestic waste, but there wasn’t a box to check for that. Anyway, according to the results, if everyone lived like me we’d need 2.8 planets to sustain life. Uh oh.
(I drive a hybrid car! Does that help?)
In my own defense, I think I’m pretty good at recycling. I’m careful not to mix glass and plastic. I don’t throw away pop cans, I compost grass clippings, and refuse to buy things that come in huge wasteful non recyclable containers. But those plastic bags . . . dang, they cost me a lot of points.
Now in reality, I don’t care that the bags hurt my score on the quiz, but I do care that they hurt the environment. I recently learned that a single plastic shopping bag can take a thousand years to degrade in a landfill, and that plastic bags are the second most common type of ocean refuse. Seriously? I don’t think I want to be a part of this problem anymore..
What if, instead of simply wishing I was a bag lady, I became one? What if I said, from now on I WILL use my cloth grocery bags? What if I said it in front of all of you so then I’d have to follow through?
Consider it done.
Here’s my plan.
I’m going to run off a copy of the bag lady picture I used in this post, and tape it next to the door lock on my car. That way I can’t miss it. Then if I still manage to get inside without bags, I will ask a store employee to watch my cart while I go back out and get them.
Whew! This is hard, but I want to do it, because we don’t have 2.8 planets with which to sustain life. But the good news is, if everyone does their part all we’ll need is one. Wish me luck!