Paper or Plastic?

writer x

It used to be that you felt guilty about asking for plastic at the grocery store as the clerks bagged your groceries. Whenever you caved and mumbled “plastic,” your mind automatically drifted to your carbon footprint and those adorable chubby polar bear pups drifting into the ocean on a sheet of melting ice the size of a postage stamp.

Now a new guilt has taken its place:  Move over, plastic bags.

Instead of being asked, paper or plastic at the grocery stores, now you’re being queried on whether you’ve brought your own cloth grocery sacks. If you do, you’re treated to a grocery clerk smile; if you don’t, I think they put your name on some sort of grocery store terrorist watch list. That’s the inconvenient truth.

First, let me say that I’m perfectly simpatico with doing away with plastic bags and even brown paper bags. I hate seeing all of those ugly plastic bags littering the highways and parks, and I understand completely that it takes a bazillion years for one plastic bag to disintegrate into a landfill, if it disintegrates at all, although all those people who work for the plastic bag companies might have a different opinion. And I’ll save an annoying post for another day about litterbugs who can’t bring themselves to lift their arms over a trash can. Ever.

But here’s my beef on cloth sacks: You can’t bring just any cloth sack to the grocery store anymore.

Today you have to buy these shiny designer-like cloth sacks and carry them over your shoulder like some kind of Gucci tote. When none of us were paying attention, grocery sacks morphed into accessories that are supposed to make some sort of fashion statement. Some even have happy slogans plastered along the sides that scream:

“I care about the planet!”

“I recycle. Do you?”

Or, my personal favorite, “Groceries.” As if you wondered what’s inside, especially if the owner is carrying the sack from the grocery store to her Toyota Prius. Or her Hummer.

And the grocery sacks are always drenched in that happy green lettering that I would describe as somewhere between 1970’s green shag carpeting and key-lime pie.

Enough, already.

For now, I bring the same two brown paper bags that I’ve been using the last six months. They’re not ripped yet and the handles work fine. And I still politely decline the grocery clerk’s weekly offer when she asks me whether I’m ready to buy one of the five dollar, unbleached organic cotton, made in the USA, store-issued sacks with “Born to Shop” plastered on the side with green lettering.

Is she kidding?

Baby steps.

::Writer X also writes at The 100 Most Annoying Things::

February 18, 2010 11:34 pm

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