I recently listened to a podcast of The Story featuring Ashley Menger. She did an experiment where she carried all her non-recyclable, non-compostable trash with her for 2 weeks. You can read about it and about other people who are trying this also on her blog.

It got me thinking about how far you should go to be environmentally friendly. She started to carry around her own silverware and cloth napkins so she didn’t need to use plastic spoons that she would have to add to her trash pile. That lead to a discussion of how much of a scene are you willing to cause to be environmentally friendly. Are you uncomfortable asking for no silverware and napkin because people will look at you strangely?

They also discussed what I’d call “surprise trash.” Like getting a cloth napkin circled with a paper wrapper. I got an ice cream cone the other day that had paper attached to the base of the cone for no really good reason that I could fathom.

I’m on a personal crusade against plastic bags. Whenever I ask for no bag in a store the cashiers look at me like I’ve grown two extra heads. How could I possibly carry a pair of socks to the car with no bag? Even better is when I’m at the grocery store and I take my own bags. Then the baggers feel compelled to wrap my stuff in plastic before they put it in my bags. They are trying to be helpful and I feel bad about asking them to stop. How did it get harder to use less packaging than more?

Speaking of reuseable bags, there was an article on it in a recent Vogue. (Don’t mock. I get it from the library to read the articles.) I read this article because I was glad to see the issue being brought up in a decidely non-environmental magazine. But although the article was very well done, the examples of reuseable shopping bags was a bit extreme. $875 for a small bag, anyone? Or would you prefer over $1000 for Hermes? Maybe if my bags cost that much I’d want my salsa wrapped in plastic first.

6 Replies to “Trashy”

  1. What really irks me, is getting that look when I am at Krogers. Krogers sells reusable shopping bags and they still act like that. Earthfare gave me a discount once because I used my own bags, but I can’t afford to shop there unless I really need a specialty item.

    The other funny thing is they expect my string bags to fly apart if there is more than 3 cans in them. I have to gently remind them, over and over, that they’re designed to be crammed full, that they will stretch, and I promise they will hold it all.

    I can’t expect too much from people around here, I guess. We’re still trying to convince everyone that it is a bad thing to fling a Mountain Dew bottle out of the back of their pickup.

  2. I think it would be better if more people brought their own reusable bags. We have a local discount grocery store where you bag your own groceries, and they charge you for their bags. I think it’s 5 cents for paper and 15 cents for plastic, but they let you take empty boxes off of the shelves to pack in. And there have been many times when I have been in stores and only had a few small things and refused a bag. You’re right, they do look at you like you’ve suddenly sprout extra body parts.

    Have a great evening.

  3. I couldn’t agree more! I get the same look when I request no bag, and I’m constantly amazed at the amount of trash my household, with only 2 adults, creates, and how much packaging surrounds everything!! I did hear an interesting solution for urban dwellers the other day (downtown Columbus charges for recycling and pickup is spotty to say the least) – someone recommended rinsing all bottles, etc, sorting recyclables and putting them out by the dumpsters for the homeless people who come along looking for things to recycle. Cutting out the middle man. Ah, urban economy.

  4. The clerks at my grocery store are starting to get used to seeing me with my net bags (crocheted ones I made myself). I’ve learned that if I want them to USE them, I must put them at the beginning of the belt and make eye contact and say “please fit as much as possible into my bags, before you start using plastic”. And they’ll often take 3 cents off per bag of MINE that I use, as well. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to persuade DH to use my bags at the big W or Freddy’s. He thinks it’s a bonehead idea (for now) to use them. Though he’s persuaded that if our state does pass the bag tax they’re aiming for ($.15 per plastic bag) then he’ll use mine.

    One of my coworkers collects plastic bags, cuts them into strips and then crochets them into sturdier bags. She’s had people ask to buy them from her. And thus far I’ve sold 3 crocheted bags to folks (at $20 per bag, that’s not bad!). I really think a lot has to do with just getting the idea out there. Getting people to see that not only freaks & hippies reject plastic and bring their own bags. That it’s OK for all socio-economic types to be more consciencous about how they affect the environment.

    Have you checked out the MaryJane’s Farm Ideabook/Cookbook/Lifebook and her Stitching Room book yet??? If not, do. She’s got a lot of ideas in there for turning things on their heads in a way that gets the idea across without turning people off. Like making a reusable quilted mug-surround for your coffee mugs when you stop by the big S. for your morning cuppa. Rather than using the card-board kind they like to put on all the cups, you use your quilted one instead. Or better yet, the quilted thingy with a mug that you brought from home. *grin* Little things like that.

  5. You should move here to portland. Pretty much all of those things (reusing bags, refusing plastic) can be SOP here!

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