Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Resolution I'm Sticking To (so far!)

There's one resolution I didn't list in my New Year's post that I have managed (10 days in) to stick to with aplomb. It's not to use ANY new shopping bags this year.

Simon and I have always kept a pile of used Whole Foods paper bags in the trunk, but I almost always forget to take them in to the store. Then when I am finally "up" for checkout and I realize I've forgotten them, I glance back and realize that the beleaguered mothers behind me will not appreciate waiting for me to dash to the car. So I'd reluctantly add another to my ever- growing collection.

Brandi had told us that they made great bags for packing away all of those homeless nick-knacks that are lying around when you're ready to move, so I'd forgiven myself of some of my guilt when I'd collect yet another bag.

Here's a Not-So-Whole-Foods story:

One day, Simon and I went to WF, recycled bags in tow. We sat down to eat lunch beforehand (a good idea, of course, if you arrive at WF hungry) and put our bags down on a nearby ledge. We forgot the bags (of course,) and when I went back to retrieve them, the cashier in the cafe said she'd THROWN THEM AWAY. Wha-WHAT?! They weren't greasy, or even wrinkled! When I asked why she threw them away, she explained it was company policy. We are free to recycle our bags, but they won't reuse them--presumably because of some sort of liability issue. Whole-dooky!

Anyways, we'd found other ways to reuse our bags. We have a canvas sleeve where you can put plastic bags and then pull one conveniently from the bottom for use as a lunch bag or poo-sac for kitty litter. We rinse Ziploc bags. I even wrapped our Christmas gifts in recycled Whole Foods bags this year.

But by far the best solution to our bag-consumption problem has been the Acme Reusable Shopping Bag that each of us got in our stocking this year.

These bags are strong and hold a lot. Plus, I can report that they are not ugly. But the best part about them is that they easily fold up into themselves for storage in a purse, glove compartment, or wherever. I ordered four more from, and since the new year began, I am proud to say that I have not brought home a SINGLE new bag. And I have done my fair share of shopping.

Another neato thing about sticking to this resolution and using my Acme bags is that I have become an accidental environmental evangelist at every shopping exchange. When I say, "No bag, please," and whip out my 2-inch-square Acme bag, unfold it, and then manage to load a heap o' groceries into it, inevitably people ask about it--and inevitably they say, "What a great idea!" I tell them it's my resolution--even apologizing for messing with their pattern if they seem surprised at all to be stopped short of reaching for a bag--and I can see that they think about the number of bags they send out in the world, the number they use, and just how easy it would be to change that habit. Ladies can even get some cutely patterned ones! Stylish and environmentally-responsible(er) consumption. Whoo-HOO!

Okay, so I learned at that over one billion plastic bags are used per minute. That's just the plastic ones. And that's crazy. In Taiwan, they use 900 bags per consumer annually. (Dude!) And in Australia, the average is 326 per consumer. I don't know the per-consumer use in the US, but I'd imagine it's somewhere in between these two figures--and well into the completely gross range.

So: get yo' Acme bag!

And a Big Thanks goes out to Mom, a.k.a. Santa, for the Acme bags.

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