So when did plastic bags become the evil nemesis of the environment?
In March 2007, San Francisco became the first city to ban shopping bags. Large grocery chains and pharmacies will not be providing plastic checkout bags within a year. Other cities may follow suit.
It seemed to come to a head last year when a slew of plastic bag alternatives began to hit the market. Making the news last year was a canvas tote with the words ‘I am not a plastic bag’ enscribed on it. It was available in the U.K. but soon it was fetching more than $400 on eBay. Everyone from Lily Allen to Alicia Silverstone was photographed using the tote to carry their groceries. Soon after that, it seemed that reusable grocery bags became mainstream.
IKEA now charges 5 cents per bag, while on the flipside, Henry’s, a local independent chain of grocery stores, credits the receipt 5 cents when a bag is provided. The more popular markets seem to be catching up; Albertson’s and Ralph’s now sell their own reusable grocery bags. As for me, I have a Baggu which I stash in my purse.
My purse can be quite full. When I commuted to work via train, I tossed in my breakfast, a book and other necessities that helped me survive my day. But there was always room for the Baggu. Baggu is packed into its own matching pouch. When I tell the cashier that I have my own bag and hold up the Baggu pouch, they are always surprised at the packaging. Some even joking that they can’t possibly fit all my groceries in the pouch. That’s when I whip out the Baggu.
In actuality, Baggu carries quite a bit. According to the Baggu’s Web site, each Baggu can carry up to 25 lbs. and hold groceries 2-3 times the capacity of regular plastic bags. So far, the only reason I’ve had to use more than one Baggu is when I visit more than one store. Even at Target, a Baggu can hold both a monster load of toilet paper and a box of Capri-Suns without even a rip.
Admittedly, some clerks are more progressive about customers bringing their own grocery bags. When I first used a Baggu last summer, I got a few blank stares. Some people never saw a reusable bag before. As for the baggers, some even think that it gives them a free pass NOT to bag your stuff because you brought your own damn bag!
Other plastic bags alternatives are available. As mentioned, Albertson’s and Ralph’s sell their own version. They can also be purchased online such as here and here. I just like Baggu because of the colors available especially a non-fussy green version which is being used, reluctantly at first, by the male component in the household.
Plastic bag-wise, I still find a good use for them when I’m not recycling them. I use them to line the trash cans in the bathrooms.
To balance out my good-deeds-for-the-environment karma, I think I’m going to grill up some delicious endangered-species kabobs over a kerosene fire.