Overwhelmed With Plastic Bags

Jade Moon
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Wednesday - October 11, 2006
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Nanci Kreidman has too many plastic bags. She doesn’t want any more, she knows it’s wasteful, but darn it, people keep giving them to her.

“I was at Long’s the other day. I bought 12 things and got 12 plastic bags,” she fumed. “I’m going to start bringing my own bags.”

She’s got a point. I have mine stuffed in a big canvas duffel in the laundry room and it’s gotten to the point where I can’t stuff any more inside. The duffel is overflowing and yet I cannot bring myself to toss some of the bags in the trash. I hate throwing them away. So I use them for kitty litter and for old newspapers and for all kinds of household cleanup jobs. I store wet clothes in them and carry them in my suitcase when I travel. And when I remember to do it, I’ll drop a bunch in the recycling bin located inside the entrance at Safeway.

But here’s the thing. No matter how you try to recycle and reuse them, the bags proliferate. They multiply. They breed like rabbits on steroids.

It’s not completely our fault. Kreidman thinks the big retailers should exercise some tough love and refuse to give them to us. Cut us off entirely. And then we’d all be forced to bring our own bags to the store, the kind you toss in the wash when you’re done so you can use them again and again and again. Just like in the good old days. Now, I really doubt the retailers would see that as a way of enhancing customer service. But think about it. Doesn’t it make environmental sense?

Kreidman may be on to something. The corporations, she says, are like enablers and pushers. They encourage and feed our bad habits. We, on the other hand, are lazy. Why should we put ourselves out when we are given whatever we want?

And while we’ re on the subject, why in the world isn’t recycling easier?

Why is it that the last time I redeemed my cans and bottles I had to stand in line in the hot sun for almost 20 minutes just to get a paltry $4.20? I would have walked, but it’s the principal of the thing. I kept up my end of the bargain and expect the deal to be honored.

Why do those machines that are supposed to swallow and count the beverage containers keep spitting them out instead? And why, when you try to save a little time by weighing a bagful of cans instead of counting each and every one, do you feel like you’re getting shortchanged?

And why the hell can’t we have curbside recycling?!

It just seems too simple for words, like a, b, c. We live on an island. We have limited resources and a finite amount of space. We need to conserve, preserve and protect. Yet we cannot seem to get even the basics down.

I have to admit that things are getting better. Slowly. At least now we’ve got a container law, that’s a step in the right direction. More people are taking the issue seriously, and that’s even better.

But recycling has to be a twoway street. We know we all need to do more of it, but we also need corporations and the government to help out more. Keep pushing us in the right direction. Make it harder to be wasteful. Make recycling an accepted and inevitable part of life, something we can count on, like death and taxes. Make it easy to do the right thing.

And please. Don’t give Nanci any more plastic bags.

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Most Recent Comment(s):

It is so sad that giant sea turtles suffocate on plastic bags in the ocean.  They think they are eating jellyfish and end up choking to death instead ~ what a waste of life!  Please be careful with your plastic packaging on the beaches, and don’t be ashamed to pick up someone else’s that you see blowing around.  You may be saving a giant sea turtle’s life!

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