The Adventure Continues: Four Ways to Survive the Plastic Bag Ban

This blogger's plastic bag ban adventure continues, along with tips to get you through.

This story is continued from , Monday July 16, 2012...

As time went on, became easier. New habits started forming and the were a few laughs.

One day as I was carrying out a huge armload of unbagged groceries, refusing to pay the 10 cents for a bag (it's the principle of the thing), I saw a fellow shopper with a similarly precarious armload of stuff walking out to his car. He looked at me and said “Forgot your bag too, eh?” I nodded, and we both smiled. We shared that moment of camaraderie, as we had found yet another fellow chronic FBS (Forgotten Bag Syndrome) sufferer.

Since then, I have become much more resourceful, and shame and guilt are just about long gone. Although those original bags are still by my door, I have become much more strategic. I am getting there I guess, one step at a time. It is an adjustment, but we will survive.

It still does continue to be a topic of great discussion in the store. You will see, just mark my words.

I went to the store the other day and drove my husband’s truck instead of mine.
You guessed it, no bags. I just had to deal with it and pay the fee. I told the clerk that I forgot my bags and to go ahead and charge me for some. The customer in front of me was still loading her cart and overheard what I had said. She stopped, frozen in her tracks. She looked me straight in the eye, very seriously, and told me that I should put them in my car when I am done unloading the groceries. I found myself, once again, having to explain why I didn’t have my bags. Seriously, I have found that I had to do that every single time I have forgotten my bags for the past four months.

Someone always feels very sorry for me or has sage advice for my chronic condition. It reminds me of when I was pregnant, and the comments I would get about why I shouldn’t be buying coffee, that I was was surely having a girl since I was obviously craving salty foods (as they looked disapprovingly at my cart) or asking if those pickles were for my ice cream. The clerk said that if I had forgotten the bags in my car, they would have sent a bagging clerk out to get them. I thought that was a neat idea, but unfortunately, they wouldn’t drive to my house to pick them up. Oh well.

In all of my in-store conversations over the months, I found out for many people, it isn’t all about the actual plastic bag ban. It is about the 10-cent paper bag surcharge, and the fact that the dime goes directly to the store to recover the cost of bags. That 10-cent surcharge will be raised to a quarter after one year. They know these big chain stores already have the cost of bags in theirpricing structure and feel like they are being charged a double-whammy which is a hard dime for many to swallow.

Oh, and before you accuse me of working for the plastic bag manufacturers for bringing this up (it can be a hot and flaming topic for some), I do support using reusable bags. I just have to remember to do it. I am getting there. At least I am starting to remember my bags after four months, just think how well I will do in a year or two! You will too. Hopefully, it won't take you as long.

Here are some tips from an experienced post-bag-ban consumer:

  • A reusable bag doesn’t have to be a special bag. Reusable bags can also be the paper bags you purchase for ten cents, or the plastic bags you get from other areas. I have no shortage of plastic or paper bags in my house and I do reuse them. Stores like Target have designed very nice paper bags that are used in other cities in the Bay Area where the ban is in place. These are very sturdy big bags that work well for reusing. Defintely worth the dime investment for what can be used as a reusable bag.
  • Designate which reusable bags will be for meat or other items that could contaminate food and let the bagging clerk know. A washable and bleachable bag is a good option, or you can use those plastic bags you got from other stores. The legal plastic wrap bags they have at the meat counter and fruit counters don’t work very well to prevent leaks or to protect fruit.
  • You won’t die without plastic bags (at least I don't think so), and it really isn’t the end of the world. I know many people use them for trash liners or for doggie clean up, but you will make do (no pun intended, maybe) with something else. We have enough other plastic bag sources around us and it is interesting what other things we can find that we can reuse as substitutes. Bread wrappers, ice bags and other bags work well. You will be amazed at how resourceful you can be.
  • You don’t have to buy a huge stash of reusable bags. Other things work just as well, such as the boxes you get from Costco, shipping boxes, plastic bins,crates, totes, etc.

Here is one final note of advice—and this is probably the most important, so listen up everyone. For the sake of friendships and relationships everywhere, the rule of thumb for social etiquette is not to discuss politics and religion at the dinner table. You might want to add this topic to that as well. You think I am exaggerating, don’t you? Just wait and see…

Do you have any tips to share with readers? Let us know!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Paula Reuschling July 22, 2012 at 08:19 PM
Another fun read. Thanks, Valerie!
Jennifer Squires September 06, 2012 at 07:40 PM
Bag ban starts manaña! http://watsonville.patch.com/articles/7-facts-about-the-single-use-bag-ban
cindyella November 26, 2012 at 08:31 AM
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