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May 18, 2008

The rest of the bag story

Baggu-fuschia.jpgMy reusable shopping bag story appeared in the Arts & Life Today section today. It had a bit of a rocky road because I was working on it when I got sick, and then it got bumped for more time-sensitive stories, so I'm glad to finally see it in print. I was particularly pleased that the last sentence, where I thank you for your help, didn't get cut. I meant it, but I didn't know if it would get past various editors and copy editors.

In fact, without you I would still be using my Whole Foods bags only when I shop at Whole Foods. As you remember from previous posts, I was shy about bringing bags with another store's logo on it into a supermarket not totally committed to being "green." What cured me, besides your scorn, was that one day Giant ran out of paper bags. (I could always justify them as not being plastic and also useful for paper recycling.) I went back to the car and got my Whole Food bags. The Giant security guard didn't bar the door, so after that it was no big deal.

I also found a cure for leaving the reusable bags in the trunk when I go shopping, which I was doing regularly. I now have a new rule that no matter what, if I leave them in the car I have to go back for them. After once getting out of a long checkout line to fetch my bags out of the car, I haven't forgotten again. 

One perk of being a reporter with a blog, I just realized, is that even if your story gets cut, you can always publish the rest of it on the Internet. Ha ha. Take that, Ms. We Don't Have Enough Space or Mr. This Doesn't Go With the Rest of the Story Even if It's Interesting or even Mrs. You Will Lose Your Readers if We Don't Cut This Really Boring Section.

So here's the rest of the story: 

For some, shopping with reusable bags isn’t a new thing. Bruce Van Wely, 54, of Butchers Hill got in the habit when he lived overseas and bought food daily.

He never got back in the habit of filling up the back of a station wagon with groceries once a week, he says. “We’ve got three or four Trader Joe’s bags, a Safeway bag, a Home Depot bag, and a few others. We’ve shipped Trader Joe and Ikea bags to friends in lesser privileged parts of the country.”

Interestingly, Van Wely’s whole neighborhood is getting into the reusable bag act. Butchers Hill is determined to be a leader in the “green” neighborhood movement, says the association’s president, Barry Glassman. “We just ordered 500 reusable grocery bags made with recycled materials. They even have our logo. We’re going to initially sell them at our May monthly meeting at our cost of about $1.50.”

But like many other people, Van Wely isn’t willing to completely give up the paper and plastic bags he often gets from a shopping trip. The paper bags are useful for recycling paper; the plastic can be used for lining wastebaskets.

“I’m on both sides of the subject,” he says.

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 8:25 AM | | Comments (13)
        

Comments

In reading you excellent article on bags (I won't make the obvious comment about you being The Bag Lady, that would be just too easy) and looking at the post on the market (above this post) I was struck by the number of plastic bags manufactured and used annually. But, more importantly how ubiquitous the plastic bag has become. No longer just as the answer to 'Paper or plastic?' at the grocery, but as the standard at most retail stores, and even farmers' markets.

Look at all the plastic bags in the 2 photographs in the market post. I had Chinese delivered for dinner last evening. It arrived in a paper bag, inside a plastic bag. Its now been several years ago, but I was struck the first time I got a plastic bag at Stebbins that was in their standard paper bag brown with green logo. I thought, plastic bags had truly arrived when a local shop such as Stebbins can get its own signature bag done up in plastic, instead of the Happy Face bags many small merchants use.

Of course plastic bags are worse than metal coat hangers for multiplying when left unattended: I have a LARGE plastic yard bag full of blue bags I keep meaning to recycle but a) I forget to take it with me (I want to take it to my car under cover of darkness) and b) any store's recycling bin I use will be overwhelmed by my collection. (Word to Wegmans, Mars, et al: either get bigger bins or empty more often.)

My one problem since I've been using reusable bags is that I have to find something for the car to put trash in. That's the one use I haven't found a replacement for.

EL wrote: "The Giant security guard didn't bar the door, so after that it was no big deal."

I hope you are being facetious. A security guard at Giant? Which Giant do you shop at?

I should have drawn the dreaded smiley face. EL

The Trader Joe's in Columbia gives you an entry into a monthly (?) raffle if you bring your own bags, even their very nice paper ones with handles.

Another reusable bag I use is an insulated one for taking home frozen or refrigerated purchases. Last time I was at Wegmans (about a 3/4 hour drive around the beltway from where I live) I just opened it up and told the cashier to put all the cold stuff directly into it. Works like a charm - we get home and the stuff is still frozen. The bag folds up to about 1/3 its open size, so it is easy to carry around.

Rosebud: Ask around to see who gets the Sunpapers delivered, at least the Sunday paper. They deliver in plastic, and it is a great size for car trash bags.

Alas, Old Fart, many supermarkets have uniformed and plain clothes security and it did not just happen. At least ten years ago Giant had plain closed guards and for a while some had them in full dress. A trip to Wegmans will include the off duty Baltimore County police people who, in full dress including gun, walk the aisles. There is one female guard there who scares the heck out of me. She never smiles and gives the impression that she will arrest you if you have too many of the not good for you things in your cart. lol

Ah, yes - the dreaded Food Police.

I've started taking the reusable into non-grocery stores. Just yesterday, I used my whole foods bag at office depot. It was perfect. I felt a bit strange at first, but that quickly went away when I realized I wouldn't have another plastic bag floating around my house. I did order some of the bagoos which seem like they might not be quite as conspicuous in clothing store, for example.

I've started taking the reusables into non-grocery stores. Just yesterday, I used my whole foods bag at office depot. It was perfect. I felt a bit strange at first, but that quickly went away when I realized I wouldn't have another plastic bag floating around my house. I did order some of the baggus which seem like they might not be quite as conspicuous in clothing store, for example.

EL - is it my imagination or do the jobs of editor and copy editor revolve around the subjective? In other words, what's boring to someone won't be to another, so cutting a story is due to personal feelings. Or is there an Editing Stylebook put our for the Tribune conglomerate?

Well, the editing process is usually a collaborative effort, in spite of my jokes. And everybody needs an editor. Even when I agree, though, sometimes it's hard to let go. EL

Elizabeth, I'm glad you cited my "would you rather I shop here with another store's bags or use your bags in another store?" rationale. Maybe it will encourage more folks not to worry and just use whatever bags they have wherever they go. After all, the idea is to "go green," not "go designer." I also try to remember to keep a bag in the car for quick trips to the drugstore or wherever.

Finally, plastic bags are banned from the City's single-stream recycling. I know this because my bag full of plastic bags, which was on top of the load in the can, was returned to the can being emptied. After snorting in outrage for a moment, I checked the list of what is acceptable and, sure enough, plastic bags aren't acceptable.

I'm sorry I didn't remember it was you to give you credit in the story, but I'm glad you spoke up. And good intel about the city's recycling. The bet bet, I guess is to take them back to the Giant or whatever supermarket recycles them. EL

'm sorry I didn't remember it was you to give you credit in the story, but I'm glad you spoke up. And good intel about the city's recycling. The bet bet, I guess is to take them back to the Giant or whatever supermarket recycles them. EL

NO WORRIES! As I said, I just hope the idea encourages others to use their bags.

As a writer, I have to give you a hand for using your blog to get the rest of your story out there. I may have to start doing the same thing!

For your readers who stroll the streets of DC, Hoopla EcoBoutique (in Adams Morgan) carries another great alternative called the ChicoBag. It comes in a great variety of colors, bunches up to fit in the palm, and is contained in an attached pouch. The whole thing comes with a little caribeener, which ups the cuteness factor.

They go for five bucks each.

www.hoopladc.com
www.store.chicobag.com

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.
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