Mar 262011

I quit using plastic bags when I moved to the Keys.  Or at least I have tried to stop using them.  It isn’t easy.  Some stores promote the canvas shopping bags, touting them as the green alternative, but putting it into practice is another thing.  I have acquired over the last few years about a dozen canvas shopping bags in various sizes.  And I use them now on a regular basis.  Shopping for groceries, laundry basket, they are pretty handy and last forever.  But trying to get the retailers on board is another matter.  Some stores in the Keys just flat out don’t use plastic.  They give out nice big canvas bags with their name printed all over them.  Makes nice easy advertising.  Others, well, let’s just say it has been an ongoing battle, and yes, I am going to name names, Publix.  Here’s looking at you.

Publix is by far one of the best grocery store chains in the country bar none.  Nice clean large stores, a great variety of foods, a killer line of generic branded products, which I will write more about in a later post, but, they need to do some training.  Publix sells their own brand of canvas shopping bags for about a dollar.  (Remember, use the big bills and put the dollar bills away).  I bought 3 when I first came to the Keys and use them to this day.  I rarely use a cart but rather carry one or two bags into the store with me.  I pick out what I want, stick it in the bag and move on.  It helps limit my purchases so I don’t overspend.  I carry the bags to the cashier counter, take the items out of the canvas bag, in front of the cashier and bag person, and then hand the bags to the bag person to put the paid items back into the canvas bag.  Here is where there seems to be failure to communicate.  More than often, the bag person will ignore the canvas bag and go immediately to the plastic bags.  I have to point out the canvas bag to them  and even then I sometimes get an argument about something leaking in the bag.  I bought canvas bags for a reason.  I don’t want plastic or paper bags.  When I get home those plastic and paper bags wind up in the trash.  No, I am not bringing a wad of plastic bags back for alleged recycling.  Put  my purchases in the damn canvas bag.  I will deal with any leaks, thank you very much.

I make several trips a week to the grocery store.  I usually by only enough food for 3 or 4 days at a time.  It keeps my food fresher, limits the amount I spend, and I throw away less due to spoilage.  So, maybe because I go there more often, and get visibly annoyed when I have to argue with the bag person, they are getting better.  Some cashiers now recognize me and make a point to not go for the plastic.  Others see me coming and shut down their cash register.  I would love to see Monroe County ban plastic bags completely but thanks to our large tourist population, it seems unlikely for the moment.  It just gets frustrating to try to do your little part to keep things a bit greener, yet the companies that promote that very behavior can’t seem to train their employees to follow along.  It’s getting better but it is still an ongoing battle.

An Amazing Discovery!

Recently I was able avert near disaster thanks to an amazing discovery.  One of my canvas bags developed an hole!  The bag tore leaving a huge gap in the fabric of time, space, and the bottom of the bag.  I was crestfallen, depressed, and generally unhappy.  What to do.  I roamed the streets in misery until I found myself in front of one of those dollar stores.  I shambled in and walked the aisles.  Not really looking for anything until I found it.  The solution to the problem.  An amazing invention.  It was called.  “A sewing kit”.  This device is incredible.  It consists of a long thin piece of metal called a “needle”, which is sharp on one end and has an eye loop on the other.  You take some string like material called, “thread”, and run it through the loop in the needle.  Stop laughing and follow along, you might learn something.  You then stick the sharp end of the needle through the two sides of the ripped part of canvas in a looping action over and over again, drawing it tight and lo and behold, the tear is fixed!!  Seriously, someone should patent this thing.  They would make a fortune.  If it works on a canvas bag, imagine what you could possibly do with a piece of clothing like a sock or something.  The mind boggles at the potential.

Yes, I am being sarcastic.  In this day and age of using and throwing away, the art of repairing something or sewing up a hole in a canvas bag is a lost art.  There have been a few stories lately about canvas bags not being any more green than plastic as people only use them a few times then throw them away.  My bags are 4 years old and guess what, they still hold the groceries, just like when they are brand new.  They have holes sewn up and when they get dirty, they go in the laundry.  Yes, I know all about the lead stories.  Newer ones have no lead and I suspect I could find other uses for these bags besides carrying food.  The point is canvas bags are the best green option for shopping.  Get in the habit of keeping them with you anytime you are heading to any store, not just the grocery store.  REFUSE to accept those godawful plastic bags.  And learn the lost art of repairing old stuff.  You don’t have to buy new all the time.

That’s all for the fritter this time.  Thanks for joining.

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