Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Lament for the Plastic Grocery Bag

In perfect detail, I remember the moment my grade 5 teacher announced to our class, the death of President Kennedy and the uncontrollable tears that rolled down her cheeks. From the launching of Sputnik, to the deaths of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, the first moon landing, the Challenger disaster and the morning of 911, these events and my personal circumstance, are forever seared in my memory and remain as vivid today as when they occurred.
It's part of the human condition to remember important historical and life-changing events as though they occurred only yesterday and so, standing in the grocery store check-out line last Thursday, I never expected to be confronted by one of these moments, when unexpectedly and sadly, I bore witness to the beginning of the end of a dear old friend.
"Sir, where are your bags?" asked the cashier.


"You're supposed to bring in your own bags, sir. It's for the environment"

"I beg your pardon?"



"Haven't you heard about Global Warming?
You know, greenhouse gasses, carbon footprint and all that.
That's why we eliminated the bags. Don't you pay attention to the news?"

"Hmm." I thought to myself. "An environmental lecture by a grocery clerk. How lovely..."

"Sir, if you didn't bring in your own bags or containers, you'll have to purchase them at your own expense"

After a moment of hesitation, I recovered from the unexpected verbal assault and stammered weakly.

"Err....that's okay, I guess."

"And just how many bags will that be, sir" she announced in a loud and annoying voice that dripped with much to much sarcasm.
I searched around for moral support, but found only the hostile, disapproving faces of both clients and staff, who seemed to be staring me down, in some sort of perverted shaming exercise.

Intimidated, but unapologetic, I considered punishing the clerk for her condescending rebuke, by making her count out 137 bags, which I quickly figured, would cost me a mere $6.85, a pittance for a well-deserved comeuppance. Yup, I thought, that would certainly teach the snotty bitch, but unfortunately, that's not what came out if my mouth;
"I'll take two bags... No three......HOLD ON, MAKE IT FOUR!!!!!" I hissed defiantly.
"And here's a quarter. KEEP THE CHANGE!!!!!"
It was at that precise moment, I sadly realized that the disposable grocery plastic bag will soon go the way of the dinosaur and disappear from our stores forever, just as in SAQ (the state run liquor stores), killed off by the social engineers and radical environmentalists bent on foisting their radical religious/environmental doctrine on an unsuspecting and complacent public.

The environmental Ayatollahs and their minion of marching crusaders have decided that the plastic bag has become
a symbol and instrument of the devil polluter and so, they have declared it verboten.
Those reasonable voices objecting to the stupidity of this pseudo environmental measure will undoubtedly go unheeded, shouted down by the howling mob of sheep, repeating the gospel of scientific stupidity.

The Earth gods have spoken.

My poor, poor friend, the plastic grocery bag is to be no more, another sad victim of intolerance. Those plastic bags that I so lovingly hoarded and recycled, the plastic bags that served me in so many useful ways, how will they ever be replaced?

No job was too small or demeaning for my little friends. Picking up dog crap or carrying my lunch to school and later in life, to the office.
Serving as a hat in a rainstorm, boots in a flood, or
a handy vomit bag, in unfortunate circumstances.
Yes, my plastic bags have served me well, never complaining, not even when used to envelop a poopy diaper, and sent packing down the apartment building garbage chute, in the most undignified of manner.

It doesn't matter that almost everyone recycles plastic grocery bags. It probably rates as the highest second use product in the world. It's a rare breed of person that doesn't have a stash of these handy little suckers somewhere in their home or apartment, a stash that we lovingly keep topped up.

Plastic bags are environmentally cheap to produce and break down rather quickly in the garbage dump, even faster than natural products like wood.
But as in any religious debate, reason has no place.

As I lament the imminent loss of the plastic bag , I remain fearful that it is only the start. The know-betters,
flush with victory, are surely gearing up for the next round.

So what will that battle be?

Gas BBQs? Wood fireplaces? Disposable hypodermic needles? SUV's?

No...no..no...The next target is much more dangerous and ubiquitous.

According to the environmentalists, there is a product that threatens the very foundation of our ability to sustain our way of life on earth.

The next war will be waged on .....
the disposable plastic water bottle.

All I can say is....



  1. Excellent post! I wonder how long all those reusable bags will take to break down once they make their inevitable trip to the landfill.

  2. Sir, I must subscribe to your newsletter!

    But honestly, isn't there a sargasso sea of used floating plastic bags the size of Texas? I remember the beaches of islands in Greece looking pretty manky.

    Still, I'm missing the large-size grocery bags, for a number of reasons.