Friday, April 4, 2008
Cathedral Stone #2
We've always had a ton'o'bags under our sink. In fact, last year's kitchen remodel drove me to find a more sensible way to keep them rounded up, and I bought this handy thingy for the cabinet door, which has been really helpful. Before, they were sort of loose under there, and I'm pretty sure they were breeding like rabbits. How in the world could we be accumulating so many? We reused them to line the bathroom wastebaskets, clean out the kitty-litter box, and Mike used them to carry his lunch to work. We even used them to cover our bike-seats on rainy days! Believe me, we are recyclers extraordinaire, and we thought we were really being good with them. But there were still waaay too many to deal with.
Sometime last year, I became aware that there is a movement to change people's habits with regard to plastic grocery bags. They have been nicknamed "urban tumbleweed" for a very good reason, since they somehow escape to blow about, snagging in trees and bushes, clogging storm sewers, drifting into farm fields (from which they must be cleaned or they clog the farm machinery), and, in coastal areas, winding up in the water, where sea animals mistake them for yummy jelly-fish and ingest them. My daughter just returned from a trip to Annapolis, where she heard they are banning them to keep the litter out of the Chesapeake Bay. Cities in California are doing the same. And, in my own walks around the neighborhood, it's rare to go a block or two without seeing one hung up in some one's landscaping. The worst thing about them is that they have a life expectancy of almost infinite length, especially if they are in a land fill. They never go away.
So, back last summer, I decided to do my bit and try to get away from using them. I first started refusing a bag when I bought just one or two small, manageable items. That was easy; why hadn't I thought of that before? Then I scrounged around the house and came up with a few reusable cloth bags of various ages and sizes. I tossed them in the back seat of the car, so I would have them handy when I went to the store.
It took awhile to develop the habit thoroughly. I would get to the checkout line and realize I had left them in the car. Or, I would be in the other car that I rarely drive, and they weren't with me at all. Eventually, persistence paid off and I now am very consistent about using the cloth bags for groceries and even other stops like the drugstore or Target. The clerks tell me they are seeing them more and more, and they really don't bat an eye when I use them. And now, all our local grocery stores, along with Walmart, are offering reusable cloth bags for $.99. Even my dad has gotten them, and was showing them to my sister on Easter. It's a trend!
This was really a very easy change to make. Yes, a very slight amount of thinking ahead is necessary, but come on, we all need to put a new wrinkle in our brains from time to time. When you think about how nice it would be to get rid of the "urban tumbleweed", and save up to 11 million barrels of oil a year (if everyone in the US gave them up), it doesn't seem like it's too much to ask of ourselves, does it?