Funny about Money

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ―Edmund Burke

Grocery Bags…Back to the Future?

Have supermarkets in your parts begun to ration plastic bags? They’re hard at it here. Even Walmart prominently displays colorful (plastic…) tote bags near the check-out stands — for sale, of course; most certainly not for free. Whole Foods has been doing that for years, as has Trader Joe’s — no surprise there, given those chains’ overall zeitgeist.

Many stores offer a choice of paper bags or plastic now — Whole Foods gives you none, of course: it’s paper or else buy one of those totebags. Or you could pile everything in a grocery basket, roll it out to your car, and pack it in a piece at a time. 😀

How do you feel about that? Political correctness aside, do you sense even the slightest…oh…resentment at this shift?

Oh yeah? Well…can you remember when, back in the Day, grocery stores abruptly made the switch from paper bags to the filmy plastic bags that infest our landfills, our front yards, our streams, our lakes, our skies, and our oceans? And do you remember how you felt about it then?


I sure do.

No choice was offered, during the Dark Ages. One day you went in, piled a week’s worth of loot into a grocery cart, arrived at the check-out stand, and…were presented with a grocery cart filled with limp plastic bags spilling out packages and cans and heads of lettuce.

And “spilling” was the operative term. When you were accustomed to a paper bag that could hold several days’ worth of food and cleaning goods, three wimpy plastic bags that together could barely hold the same amount were, shall we say, confounding. Where a paper bag would stand upright in the trunk of your car, these damn things would flop in there and disgorge their contents to roll around every time you turned a corner. When you got home, you had to gather all your purchases off the floor of the car trunk and pack them back into the wispy plastic bags before you could haul the groceries up the steps to your apartment.

Ohhhh GOD how I hated those plastic bags!

In those primitive times, makers of trash baskets turned out kitchen garbage cans designed to hold a paper grocery bag. You just dropped an empty bag into the trash basket — which fit under the kitchen sink (remember that?) — and when it was full, you browbeat your husband or a kid to take it out to the garbage bin. It was wonderful!

Halcyon times.

The accursed plastic bags, of course, did not fit into anything that even vaguely looked like a trash basket. About the best you could do was set a plastic bag on one side of the sink, use it to hold accruing debris as you cooked, then tie it off and toss it into the trash can, where it would sit there leaking and stinking until someone dragged it and a half-dozen other bags that collected with it in the old trash basket.

Note that I did not hate the bags for environmental reasons. In the Dark Ages, we didn’t get that kind of news. If we had any worries about the environment, they had to do with smog and nuclear fallout.What could a plastic bag have to do with those?

Unless plastic bags were manufactured in nuclear plants. Who knows? Maybe they were… They’re certainly radioactive now.

Switching back to paper bags, I must admit, elicits similar sentiments. Hallelujah, brothers and sisters: now we get to change the way we run our kitchens AGAIN! at the behest of faceless corporations and bureaucrats who know better than we do. Always.

After all these years, I’ve arrived at a détente with the accursed plastic bags. I have a lot of uses for them. Uses that paper bags cannot handle.

Kitchen sink cabinets no longer have room to accommodate a trash can big enough to hold a paper bag. So the plastic trash can is gone. Instead, wet kitchen trash gets stashed in a plastic bag, which lives in the refrigerator until I’m ready to brave the alley.

Taking the garbage out entails retrieving a key, dodging the dogs, passing through two gates and unpadlocking one of them, dodging the occasional bum, wrestling a huge four-household bin, relocking the gates, putting the padlock key back, letting the dogs back out…good fun. Sooo….being able to refrigerate the trash so I don’t have to traipse out there every day is a great convenience. Not one I’m looking forward to losing.

Nor do I look forward to having to keep a paper bag full of garbage in an expensive covered garbage can in the garage. This means every piece of trash or garbage has to be traipsed out through the kitchen door into the garage, and the whole mess has to be kept tightly covered to keep the rats out. That, I could truly do without.

And speaking of our little room-mates, have you noticed many sewer roaches dancing around the kitchen floor since the advent of plastic bags? Miss the little fellows, do ya?

Paper bags nurture cockroaches. The little gals and their boyfriends ride the freighters and airplanes and trucks hauling foods across our borders and into the grocery stores. When they find those nice, dark paper bags, they lay their eggs in them. You bring those eggs home with you when you bring home the bacon. Pack those bags away in the pantry closet or the garage, and the babes hatch out and join the buggy can-can line!

This is totally the main reason I do not want to go back to the future with paper bags.

Well. Except for the dog mounds.

Nothing beats a plastic bag for picking up dog mounds.

How, seriously, do our Respected Betters think we’re going to clean up after the beasts?

Never fails, does it?



Author: funny

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  1. I still think the kitchen garbage cans will use plastic bags, but the idea is that you’re not filling those plastic bags up with more plastic bags from the grocery store. We aren’t going to eliminate plastic bags altogether but rather, reduce them.

    Kroger has announced that they’ll be discontinuing them at all stores within a few years.

    • I suppose a grocery-store plastic bag might fit in a tiny trash basket, but there’s no way they’ll open wide enough to hook over the edges of a regular-sized plastic kitchen trash/garbage bin. For that, you’d need to get those white things with the plastic draw strings…out of the plastic frying pan into the plastic fire! 😀

      Personally, I could live quite happily without ever seeing another grocery-store checkout-stand plastic bag. Never felt deprived when all we had was paper bags…well, until they got rid of the paper bags, that is.

  2. I haven’t used a paper or plastic grocery bag in nearly 10 years. I have a set of cotton grocery bags that I use, and mesh bags for holding produce. I can’t say I have missed either the paper or plastic store bags and would love to see stores do away with single use bags altogether.

    • I’m planning to get a fistful of mesh bags from Amazon. We used to use them in England, and they were GREAT. They’d fit in a pocket, but a couple of them would hold a full week’s worth of grocery gear. Not that anyone shopped that way…most people would stop by the shops a couple times a week, on the way home from the Underground station.

  3. I started reusing paper grocery bags 20 years ago because the store where I shopped paid 5 cents apiece for doing so. Then I discovered that double-bagging made my bags last longer — and earned me a extra 5 cents. I now use the tote bags. It took awhile to remember to take them from the car into the store, and I still forget sometimes, but I like not having to deal with the mounds of useless plastic. Almost all of the bags were giveaways, some with commercial advertising but some with messages from the local Habitat for Humanity’s Re-Store and a couple sewn by clients in the MRDD community. One of the clerks at the pet food store calls me the Bag Lady because I bring the same sturdy canvas bag evey month, and she has learned to pack the 16 cans of dog food in it just perfectly. We need to get over our self-righteous belief that we can dump our trash on the rest of society and to start taking responsibility for reducing our own waste.

    • They don’t reward you for re-using paper bags here…at least, not at this time. It seems to me there was some scheme, several years ago, by one of the chains, but I don’t recall what it was. Safeway, for awhile, had a plan encouraging people to bring plastic bags back — I ignored it, unfortunately, because I do re-use them in a variety of ways.

      I certainly would not be averse to using paper bags for the garbage…although I will say I do not like having to go out into the alley any more than absolutely necessary, given the transients — it’s very creepy. That’s why I keep trash in the fridge — so as to slow spoilage & limit trips through the locked gates to once every three days or so.

      Back in the day when you couldn’t get anything BUT paper grocery bags, we didn’t have the problems with drugs, untreated mental illness, and crime that we have today. I certainly wasn’t afraid to take the trash out, back in the Dark Ages. These days I really don’t like it.

  4. I began using tote bags (store brand) around 10 years ago. I sometimes forget to bring them into the store, but I use the plastic bags to wrap garbage I don’t have a garbage disposal. If Kroger here in Arkansas still uses paper bags, I haven’t seen them in years.
    I can’t help but notice that I’m the only one at grocery/discount stores to use tote bags. It won’t become a widespread practice in this country until all free grocery bags are eliminated.

    • A LOT of people here haul their own bags into the grocery stores. Especially to stores like Sprouts, Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods…but you’ll see them at the Safeway/Albertson’s and the Fry’s (Kroger), too.

      I’m going to order a few mesh bags from Amazon. You can find the same kind there that we used to get in England — they are very handy, easy to carry around, and capacious. (ohhh! dontcha love that word???)

  5. Here in California they banned single use plastic bags several years ago. You can pay somewhere between 10 and 30 cents for a paper bag if you forget to bring your reusable bags in with you.

    I still have a stash of plastic bags that I use in my bathroom garbage can (it’s little) – when I run out of those, I’ll have to buy some I guess.

    • A 30-cent gouge for a paper bag would definitely be enough to persuade me to start ordering from Amazon. 😀

      In our parts, the state legislature passed a law forbidding cities and towns from banning plastic bags. Follows, eh? You can see where the minds of right-wingers go simply by watching the antics in the Arizona legislature. It’s alternately hilarious and sad.