Friday, June 18, 2010

Fighting Pollution One Grocery Bag At A Time


Would you look at these great shopping bags!  They were at Tractor Supply (my one stop shopping place for pet food, chicken feed, sunflower seed, and all kinds of nifty farm related stuff.) 

These caught my eye because they are really sturdy and were cheap (under two dollars.)
For years, ever since becoming aware of the pollution caused by plastic bags, I've had a motley assortment of canvas bags to put my groceries in -- some bought for the purpose, others souvenirs of various book fairs and mystery conventions. (I need a bunch because I generally only shop once a week. The rest of the time the bags stay in the back of my car.)

The canvas bags have worked well -- but they have one major failing. Unlike paper bags or  the plastic bags on the little racks, my canvas bags need to be held open while they're being filled. Sometimes I feel that the bag boys groan when they see me and my virtuous canvas bags.
Now that I have these snazzy carriers,  I won't have to apologize to the bag boys.  I will, however, have to make sure they don't fill the bags so full and so heavy I can't carry them from the car into my house.  I'm pretty sure the bag I schlepped today weighed about thirty five pounds. Or more.

I did say they were sturdy.
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Anonymous said...

Like you Vicky, I use shopping bags long ago first because it is easy to use especially when I go to the fresh market every sunday, second because they polluted.
In french supermarkets the plastic bags have been forbidden long ago and it is a very good thing for the planet.

vicki archer said...

My car is stacked with my old seemed strange years ago when we started eliminating the plastics, but now I can't imagine not shopping with my own bags. Happy weekend Vicki, xv.

Merisi said...

And there he is again, the grocery clerk pushing the shopping cart! ;-)

How I miss the groceries being put into bags by the cashier! Here, they literally through the stuff over the edge of the very short counter if you are not quick enough to bag it yourself! The shoppers here are so respectful/compliant of the non-bagging policy, the through their groceries into the shopping cart after the cashier has rung them up, then procede to a counter by the side of the store to bag them themselves! I refuse to do that, but have my shopping bags aligned in the cart and bag the groceries as they fly off the counter. Most of the time I manage to be quick enough, but there are times when I get stared at for insisting on bagging them immediately.

For this reason, besides the canvas shopping bags, I also carry a small laundry basket in the back of my car. I put it in the shopping cart to throw the small stuff in there.

Shopping can be very stressful here! I pitty the elderly who have to put up with this thoughtlessness (I lost my ATM shortly after arriving here, precisely because of the stress at the register).

I miss American supermarkets in more ways than one!

Merisi said...

Please excuse the mistakes, I meant to edit, but pushed publish instead!

Regarding the stress in Viennese supermarkets, here is a brilliant account by another somewhat-still-new-to-Vienna fellow, writing about hell at the cash register, Badger's -> Vienna for Dummies. ;-)

Martin said...

We use the canvas or hessian bags these days. Our favourite supermarket chain has been actively encouraging people to use the 'bags for life' by awarding points. Get enough points and enjoy a discount on your shopping.

Pat in east TN said...

I really like your newest bag and may have to get to my local TS and pick some up.

Wouldn't it be great if plastic bags were forbidden here too and that all grocery stores had some kind of incentive to switch over to canvas.

Brian Miller said...

every little bit helps...and this is an easy and practical way to make a difference...anyone can do it...good for you!

Vicki Lane said...

Helene and Vicki A. -- Hurrah for France for banning the throwaway plastic bags!

Martin - A few of our supermarkets encourage the use of non-disposals but it's probably going to take an outright ban to make everyone comply.

Merisi - You and Badger make me laugh! It sounds dreadfully intense. I'm happy to bag my own groceries but fortunately (this IS the American South) no one's in that big a hurry!

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

I carry my own bags and have for years. My first ones were canvas and I still some of them. You're right about having to hold the canvas ones open.

I prefer to pack my own groceries because the bag people put too much in them and they are heavy for me to carry. I start out by saying, "Please don't make these too heavy. I brought a lot of bags." Doesn't matter - seems like it's a game with them to get as much in the bags as they will hold.

I enjoyed Merisi's comment and she's exactly right about how fast the European checkers can push your groceries past the price checker. Can be stressful there to keep up with the pace.

Merisi said...

after linking you to Badger's story, I read it again:
He has an incredibly witty way to tell it, that even I had to laugh while reading it, but at the same time, fear of my next shopping expedition started creeping up too.

What I find really frightening is that customers here don't rebel against this incredibly rude treatment which does not give you a fighting chance for example to check your receipt for errors, for example. Anyway, better dream of the good old USA supermarkets! ;-)

Tammy said...

Great looking bag! I need to be better about taking in my canvas bags. I'm still not ingrained to do this and am more hit and miss. They ARE in my truck, and I do use them when I think of it. Just a habit I need to be more consistent in. Thanks for the reminder. I also saw a very clever idea on another blog that I'd like to try. It is taking the feedsacks that are made out of the heavy duty plastic (almost a tarp like material) and making bags from them. I have some really nice ones saved from the winter that bird seed came in.

NCmountainwoman said...

Like you, I have problems convincing the baggers that they need not fill each bag to capacity since I brought in more than enough for the groceries. One of them put four half-gallon cartons of milk and juice in one bag.

Our grocery store in WI gave free canvas bags with every fifty-dollar purchase. You would be surprised how many people starting using them despite the fact that they weren't very expensive in the first place. Guess it's the idea of getting something free.

Deanna said...

We just recently got a Tractor Supply Store in this area. I'm going to have to check them out. I also carry my own bags with me. The few times I don't have them, I save the plastic and recycle them at Wally World.

Have a wonderful day!

Subby said...

I must have 20 of these things now! But I don't just use 'em for much more to do with them. And they come in reeeeal handy at the book sales :)

Speaking of which, I believe I've stumped my local library...!

Will B&N be carrying your newest?

Vicki Lane said...

Oh, yes, Sam -- I try to pack my own bags . . . or at least keep an eye on what the bagger is doing. Some are quite good; others haven't a clue.

Merisi -- too daunting! Pity the poor tourist who is still struggling to understand the money.

Tammy == those feedsacks are way too good to throw away -- at least, not empty. We use them when harvesting potatoes and I use them for hauling compost around. I also use them as garbage bags.

Good to know so many other folks are into the non-throwaway bag thing!

Subby, my upcoming book is on the B&N site for pre-order right now -- whether it will be at your local B&N, I can't say. If you're in there, you could always ask -- tell them it's a book they really ought to carry! ;-)

Paul C said...

I am amazed at how the reusable bags have caught on. People now, out of habit, carry several under their arms. Wonderful!

gayle said...

I have just started doing this and I am really enjoying using my reusable bags!!

Subby said...

Vicki, I will endeavour to do that ;)

Vagabonde said...

Like you I enjoy those reusable grocery bags. I try to buy some when I go on trips, it’s a usable, inexpensive and easy way to carry a souvenir. Right now in California I just bought two at Ralph’s supermarket. They have nice prints on them (one has grapes and the other wild life.) I use them to carry my knitting or to hold my books too. I also like to give the Trader Joe’s bag to friends because it says “Atlanta” on them.

Tipper said...

Oh I love the bag-it does look like it would work perfectly-I'll be on the look out for them at TS here too.