Monday, June 01, 2009

Paper or plastic? No thank, I've brought my own bags

I used to silently make fun of people who brought their own bags to the grocery store. Ooh, look who's trying to take care of our planet! How are you going to fit all of your food in those little canvas tote bags? Why can't you take plastic bags like the rest of us, and re-use them for cat litter and bathroom trash? That's what I do, and I feel great about the environment, thank you very much.

A few weeks ago, my girlfriend went shopping and brought home a couple of these canvas grocery bags, ostensibly for her to use when she's here. But I'm a liberal, bleeding-heart, "save the Earth" Democrat, and now that the bags were here (and I didn't have to make the effort of buying them in the first place), I've started to use them.

On Sunday afternoon, I decided to make grilled sausage sandwiches for dinner. The recipe recommended fresh sausages, which meant that I had to go to the Key Food supermarket down the street instead of the Associated grocery store just around the corner. The Key Food has a broader selection of fresh meat than the Associated. I took one of my grocery bags and put it at the bottom of the basket at the store. When I got to the checkout line, I opted for the self-checkout, because I always like doing things with computers instead of people when I have the chance.

First, my grocery bag was underneath all the groceries in the basket. So I started by putting things in one plastic bag just to keep the checkout machine happy. When I reached the bottom of the basket and pulled out my bag, I tried to swap the plastic bag with the canvas one. Somehow, this move upset the checkout computer, which insisted I had a "weight error" and didn't respond until one of the store employees came over to key in her secret code. I managed to finish checking out the rest of my groceries and got out of there without any further assistance, but I'm sure I looked like a fool fumbling with the machine. And on my way home, carrying my canvas tote bag, I wanted to punch myself in the face. I know, I'm doing my part by using fewer plastic bags, and it's actually easier to carry the canvas bags than a handful of plastic ones. But I still felt like I had become more like all of my neighbors, and I don't like the idea that I've assimilated. I can't use the canvas bags every time, because I still need the plastic grocery bags for cat litter. But if I buy a Prius, the transformation to full-fledged Brooklyn resident will be complete.

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