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people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation

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the people are not feeling this anti-plastic bag measure
children of dune - leto 1
So you may or may not know that Austin, in keeping with its Greener Than Thou mantra, has discontinued the use of disposable bags, such as those made of plastic and oftentimes found at grocery and convenience stores for the purpose of carrying one's groceries or convenience items.

Being liberal, an Austinite, and environmentally aware, I am very supportive of this measure, but I find that when I now enter a grocery and/or convenience store to get one item and end up with thirty while staring in horror at smug checker, I become surprisingly conservative, and also, pro-landfill like you would not believe. I'm ready to dig some myself, lets put it that way, and hey, the future can suck it.

This is the city of saving a salamander that isn't entirely visible to the naked eye unless presented on colored paper (exaggeration. maybe.), I get that. I'm not actually opposed to gradual reduction of single-use plastic, though I want to point out, they aren't single use--they are mulitple use. Plastic bags are perfect for bathroom trash cans, for quick clean-ups of the house, for school projects, for insta-use lunch bags--I mean, I personally get a lot of wear out of them.

Paper bags? I LOVE SINGLE USE PAPER BAGS. They show you shop at high-end grocery stores while also being (limitedly) environmentally conscious, they work in a jiffie for drawing paper and backing for drawings, they're emergency construction paper and bookcovers, and also, they're hearken to the halcyon days of yore whereas as a child I carried them for my grandmother.

The thing is, this is Austin, and why increment when you can shove it down people's throats all at once? It's annoying, especially since as of March 1st, resuable bags were jacked up by 400% because that helps, really. It's also--SURPRISE!--a problem for those who are poor or on various social services, the elderly, and the disabled, because reusable bags are $4.00 a pop in some places; and they need to be washed but it's new enough to a lot of people--read a lot of fucking people--to wash their bags.

And I say this as someone who comes from a family with reusable bags, including ones especially for frozen food. We do it a lot, just sometimes not when we're only running to the store for juice and realize we need coffee, sugar, and there's a sale on mini-wheats. (When I travel now, I buy my mother reusable grocery bags. My next goal is to get one for her from Trader Joe's, since I forgot the last time I was in a state with a Trader Joe's.)

Actually, I know a lot of countries already have something like this in place and find this weird to consider not knowing, but the thing is, this isn't just a change of reusable to non-reusable--this is trying to create a mindset that allows an overhaul of the entire pre-, during-, and post-grocery shopping experience.

It's buying reusable bags, which is highly expensive right now, but okay, that much we can all do; we can shop, and hey, we can express our individuality by being like everyone else. Pack them in the vehicle, good to go. Take them into your store of choice, got it, you forget you run to get them out of the trunk, annoying, but okay. Bring them home, not so bad. Unpack, sure.

Wash them? This step will be hard to remember. Specialize your bags to decrease the wear and tear on bags that will hold dry goods and non-meat and non-dairy and non-frozen--really? Realize some bags can't be washed or fall apart in three or four washes, yes that was fun.

Get them back to the car--yeah, good luck, no one remembers that, and dude, I hope you don't take the bus or something to the grocery store and leave them on the table.

Better idea: surcharge the goddamn bags for a year or so. Go all paper. Work people into the anti-disposable bag theory knowing that you're working against decades of retail conditioning and making a massive change in behavior. And be aware we all become very, very fucking conservative at eleven at night at the local convenience store and our items number greater than five.

Also? Four dollars a reusable bag? You are fucking with me.

I actually do not know how this is gonna go, possibly because Austin is also weirdly contrary sometimes and Austinites are, on a whole, fans of opposing things for reasons. So while even if the city doesn't back down and the legislature takes some kind of Protect The Plastic Bag measure state-wide, Austinites will immediately--we do this--immediately remember we are a lone island of dark blue sanity in a virulent red state (dude, go with it) and turn anti-plastic bag like it had unprotected missionary sex in the dark with our mothers. Because we are not only Greener Than Thou, we are also Greener In Opposition To Thou, which is how we ended up with special nearly-invisible salamander protection.

Disclaimer: I am generalizing and simplifying the salamander issue (though not by much) and also, making sweeping, sweeping, sweeping generalizations. I also had to carry ten items in my hands from a convenience store today because I forgot the bag issue and left my purse at home and it was not fun.

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Where are you shopping? HEB reusable bags are anywhere from 99 cents to $1.50.

Yeah, the ban wasn't handled well.

There are Trader Joe's in Dallas and Houston now, if you ever want to make a road trip!

Wal-Mart on Friday. Dude, my sister called me to tell me about that. Target offered free paper bags on Friday.

Ooh, I did not know that about Trader Joe's!

Trader Joe's is also here in now in San Antonio. It is Ridiculously overpriced. And how did I not know you where just 40 min. From me?

OMG a Trader Joe's in San Antonio? We don't get one until next year. Road Trip!

...reusable bags are 2 for .99 at Coles right now, want some souvenir Aussie bags for the car? :)


Dude, international reusable bags? THE ENVY OF MY WORKING CLASS GROCERY STORE.

[giggles] Okay, and in return I want a tiny invisible salamander. :DDD

I think I've still got your addy, has it changed since we last exchanged mail?

Same address!

I will send you something Texasy in return! Let me think.

They've been having problems with the reusable bags since people don't always wash them. We recycle our plastic bags here but I'm waiting for them to charge for them.

The washing issue for reusable bags is a problem. It's just not something people who don't regularly use them are going to think about.

It's all little things with this, which each on their own aren't that big a deal, but all of those little things are part of a massive change in lifestyle. It's gonna be rocky.

(Deleted comment)
I think the raw food like meat or dairy or even frozen is where the problem shows up.

I wouldn't mind if Austin went to a surcharge for bags--low enough to be not a huge problem but still annoying.

In Ohio we have a chain of grocery stores that are very reasonably priced, called Aldi. They sell off brands etc. You have to pay $.25 for a shopping cart and either $.05 for a plastic bag or $.10 for a reusable stronger plastic bad for your groceries. Now, most people leaving the store give the cart they bought to the next customer and lots of people just role the cart out to their car and put the groceries in the trunk without a bag. It's a great system and a better way to encourage recycling or at least taking your cart to your car and worrying about getting things into your house when you get there.

Edited at 2013-03-07 04:48 am (UTC)

Huh, that cart thing I have never heard of before. Interesting. I do like the 5 or 10 cent thing, but I'd love to go to recycled paper bags as well, since either the plastic or the paper are useful for most people.

Wait, washing reusable bags? What is this sorcery?

I walk to the grocery store. If they refused to give me a plastic bag when I - yup - accidentally buy six times the items I intended to and I forgot my reusable bags at home I would cry. I mean, I've gotten really good at remembering, but still sometimes I stop unexpectedly or forget! Fortunately here there's just a $.05 surcharge, and I can deal with that.

Four dollars? SHEESH. I should start making fabric ones and selling them on etsy or something, apparently.

*dies and dies*

I am looking at amazon now for bags in bulk. They even have produce bags! Which those, I would go to; produce bags are pretty useless once you remove the vegetables from them.

And then of course there's Akron Ohio. Reusable bags aren't required but we do have this http://www.ohio.com/business/acme-gets-arty-with-grocery-bags-1.235956 the first annual designer bag. And the second run with plus a new bag http://www.ohio.com/news/local/acme-s-arty-grocery-tote-a-hit-another-one-in-the-bag-1.239720 I kind of love Akron.

Ooooooh. I like these!

Your commentary on Austinites' contrariness is spot-fucking-on, OMG, which i say with love, of course. :) There's already been a bill filed against the ban, btw, by some dumbass freshman legislator who probably doesn't have a single city in his district even vaguely contemplating a bag ban. So, we'll see how that goes. A committee chair tried to get something similar through last session after a Valley city did the first bag ban in the state, and it went nowhere. /Texas lege nerdery

Where I am (Switzerland) you pay the equivalent of 30 cents for a paper bag, sturdily built, with handles and everything if you don't bring your own bag, or $2 for a plastic reusable one. I have to admit, it's never occurred to me to wash a bag unless it's visibly filthy or something has spilled in it...

Oh man. My city just banned all plastic bags and paper ones are now 10 cents. Of course half the time I forget the reusable bags I just bought... and I'm sad that I'll have to start buying plastic bags for our bathroom trash can and my sneakers when packing... :P

We have Trader Joe's in Louisville now, sweetie. I'd be happy to pick up a bag for your mom. :)

I work for a retailer that is not unlike your city, and we have not only banned the plastic bag, we've begun charging for the paper ones (as well as sell reusable bags, which at a charge of €1.50 does not come to $4.00.) It's amazing how many people find they've put a bag of some sort in their purse, or find the items fit in their purse, when they're informed they have to pay for the privilege of a paper bag to carry their goods home in.

A few years back I wound up knitting my first cotton string grocery bag, after one too many times of the checker using fifteen different bags to hold everything and getting home to discover that one of my purchases never made it back to my cart after being bagged. A learning curve in remembering to bring it into the store - when I carried a backpack a string bag or two lived in the back compartment, but when I just stuck my wallet in my pocket and left the backpack at home, I tended to forget to bring shopping bags as well.

Kept knitting more bags, as I wanted some to keep in the car full-time, and the one time I washed one that was visibly stained it shrank in the dryer and had to be replaced. I've mostly got the habit of bringing them into Wal-Mart with me now, though not into any other stores I shop in. (Mom still gets scads of plastic bags on her grocery run, ample to serve our needs for small trash bags.)

I love paper bags! Hard to find them some places.

My boyfriend and I buy the huge reusable bags from IKEA and use them for our Costco and grocery store trips. I think they were less than $1 each? Much bigger than regular reusable bags, but sure carry a lot of stuff for the price...

The $4 reuseable bag thing blows my mind. I lived in LA for years, and they did the same thing in Santa Monica, re: got rid of plastic bags and they never jacked up the cost of the reuseable bag, unless you're talking about canvas or something. The ones that you can get at Ralph's/Vons/Kroger/etc. were still $0.99 and for the run up to the no plastic date, some stores were have sales and even giving them away for free, so... Austin, what's up?

As someone who has used reuseable bags for years because they are awesome and hold so much more (we didn't have a parking space, so I sometimes had a LONG walk home with the groceries, so less bags was more, right?) and never had an issue with them falling apart or really having to wash them. Wiping them down worked for me, but again, I wasn't using the canvas bags but the $0.99 ones from the grocery store.

I still have and am using the first bags I bought in 2008 in my regular rotation.

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