Wednesday, January 30, 2013

In the Bag

On January 1, 2013, Alameda County joined the growing list of state counties with legislation banning the use of disposable plastic bags by food service retailers and pharmacies. This is supposed to reduce the amount of trash that winds up in our landfills.

Of course, California has always had a fringe green crowd that already owns their own bags. Mrs. Snark has tried to rub elbows with this elite Trader Joes and Whole Foods clique. However, the Snark family has unwholesome cravings for highly processed snack foods and cereals, so she is always led astray, back into mainstream grocers.

Part of the trouble with reusable store bags is that they vary in terms of everything--dimension, quality, color and sturdiness.

Adapting to life without plastic has required consumers to make certain behavioral adjustments to how they shop. But it's Green, so it's worth it, right?


There's been a lot of whining. 

There have been a handful of valid complaints too from people with walkers or other mobility issues.

Mostly, there's been a lot of whining.

The Snark clan has not been unaffected by the change...

Bag Hoarding.

When Mrs. Snark first learned of the coming ban, she started hoarding plastic grocery bags.  Frankly, when your household includes three pooping cats and a un-potty trained toddler, your plastic bag use is high.

The number of bags requested on each shopping skyrocketed...

"Those eggs look awfully heavy," Mrs. Snark said to the grocery store checker. "Could you please double-bag each egg individually?"

Mrs. Snark squirreled away bags in nooks and crannies, stuffing cupboards and drawers full of scrunched up plastic. It became something of an obsession, like a rodent preparing for a long bagless winter.

Mr. Snark discovered what was happening when he opened a cabinet one day and an avalanche of plastic buried his feet. He scowled and then his furry brow knit. 

"Does this have something to do with the zombie apocalypse?" he asked.

"No, nothing!" Mrs. Snark explained the impending plastic bag ban.

"I think there may be more space under the kitchen sink," Mr. Snark replied once she finished.

Reusable Bags Always Get Left in the Car.

Despite dire Mayan predictions, the world did not in fact end on December 21st. Not this world anyway. January 1st rolled around without incident and the ban took affect.

Almost immediately, Mrs. Snark observed a troubling trend--reusable bags always get left in the car. Europeans who have been at it for decades probably have this shit down, but we Californians are simply behind the times.

On the way to the store, Mrs. Snark chants, "Takeinthebags. Takeinthebags. Takeinthebags." Then she gets out of the car, grabs her purse, removes Miss Bear from the car seat, herds the precious child through the parking lot, locates a cart, enters the store, and performs a face palm.  "Damn it! No bags!"

Even a full month after the ban started, Mrs. Snark still hears the person in front of or behind her (and quite often herself) exlaim: "Damn it! I left the bags in the car!"

Very occassionally, a person elects to purchase the bags the store sells. More often, the shopper loads their unbagged groceries back into the cart and hauls them out to the car. The phenomenon has left Mrs. Snark wondering if there will be an uptick in crimes due to the number of vulnerable people stuck bagging their groceries in dark parking lots.  

Reusable Bag Shame.

Finally, Mrs. Snark has observed an unexpected side effect of the plastic bag ban--a feeling of shame associated with carrying name branded reusable bags into a different store. 

Yesterday, Mrs. Snark noticed the woman behind her fidgeting. Curious, she glanced back. The woman blushed and said, "It's so embarrassing coming into Lucky's with Safeway bags."

Gloating, Mrs. Snark pointed to her own stack of bags. "I solved that problem by going with the premium, luxury brand bags. MINE are from Trader Joes."


  1. Wow. Sounds like I got out of CA in the nick of time. I still take reusable bags shopping with me here in OK. I have yet to get them out of the car, but I take choice. Oh, and you can solve the Logo embarrassment by simply turning the bags wrong side out. :)

    1. Calisa, I think it's great that you're doing good for the environment. But yeah, Cali is over-regulated. Thanks for dropping in. :-)