Earthworms’ Castings

With Jean Ponzi
Big Bang: Reusable Bags

Hurrah for you for drafting reusable bags into shopping routines!

Green bagging is one hot trend that helps us humans chill our carbon tootsies.
I confess to converting late to bagism, well after I became environmentally aware. Back when Earth Day and I were ardent twenty-somethings, I rudely pooh-poohed the string bags and cloth sacks touted by my fellow Greenies.

In my humble opinion – and experience – those wimpy little twit-bags did not have the right stuff to transport a real person’s grocery load. Maybe a couple of baguettes, sure, or getting one dinner’s worth of produce home from a morning market stop, but that’s the way they shop in France. This is the big-bag U.S. of A. We’d need much more bag for our buck to get us to re-pack our packaging habits. I know I did.

The bag that changed my shopping life came from (ancient history here) Earth Day ’95. Festival organizers raised some funds hawking a batch of bags leftover from the ’94 World Cup, tourney-sponsor logo-stamped by MasterCard – a respectable pedigree of reuse!

These are mighty sturdy bags: double-bottomed, heavy-duty canvas with double-thickness extra-long handles. They’re exactly the kind of bag L.L. Bean will emblazon with your logo, call it a monogram, and sell to you for $50, plus shipping and handling. I got mine for five bucks each. Did I bag a bargain, or what?

The only problem I’ve had with these champion bags is that grocery checkers can load ‘em up with 50-plus pounds of purchase, a challenging schlep for a middle-aged babe whose only power-lifting practice is when I power-shop.

Equipped with such capable bags, is there any reason anymore to succumb to the lure of “paper or plastic?” Yes, especially when I slip up and stop by the store bagless. It happens. Time to bag the Green Guilt and appreciate anew the merits of temporary tools.

I use paper grocery bags to line my kitchen garbage can, plus they sure do keep the chips out of harm’s way when I’m stocking up on cans of anything.

And what if an eco-ignorant bagger-kid slips my bananas into plastic before I fling my super-filler-uppers down the conveyor? There’s nothing better to bag up shoes inside a suitcase or a potluck container full of sloppy soupy stuff. Then those bags can get RECYCLED, right back at the grocery store!

Plastic bags collected at stores – and other plastic “film” items, including shrinkwrap and bubble pack – will be directly, efficiently recycled to manufacture plastic lumber and other durable, useful items.

In the works locally: the BYO Glen-Ed initiative. Residents of Edwardsville and Glen Carbon, Illinois, are working to establish a ten-cent fee for any single use bag – paper or plastic – as the standard for ALL retail establishments in their communities. Both locally-owned and chain stores. The stores can decide what to do with these funds: donate to Watershed Nature Center, purchase reusable bags to give at no charge to SNAP voucher (or other) customers, or whatever! These folks have meticulously researched measures to reduce single-use bags in other U.S. communities. They are working to get BYO ordinances passed. Stay Tuned!

Welcome, friend, if you are new to Life in the Bag Lane. Whatever their logo, whatever their size, use your reusable bags with pride. You’re in good Green company!

Jean Ponzi airs her eco-views – and those of many cool Green guests – in weekly Earthworms podcasts, conversations available at podcast.kdhx.org, or through iTunes.