Plastic Shopping Bags – “No, thanks”

Here’s a story for you:

A man in a store goes to the checkout counter to purchase one small item.  The store associate proceeds to put the item into a plastic bag, at which point the man says, “Oh, I don’t need a bag, thank you.”  The associate then takes the unused bag and thoughtlessly throws it in the trash.  That’s right – an item that had to be processed from crude oil, shipped by truck to the store, and was never even used – right into the trash, without a thought.

Another story:

A woman in a store buys a couple of items and also declines a plastic bag.  “No big deal,” she says happily, “I don’t need a bag.” The associate doesn’t seem to want to believe it is possible for a customer to decline this free, lovely plastic bag, and proceeds to ask not once, not twice, but three times if the customer is sure she doesn’t want the bag.

In my experience, these are not isolated instances and both scenarios have happened to us on many occasions.  When we decline plastic shopping bags, one of two things usually occurs – either the associate throws the unused bag in the trash, or they repeatedly ask if we are completely sure we don’t want a bag.  While the latter is much preferred – one,

how have we come to the point as a society that “things” are so replaceable, we will throw unused items away?

And two, how do we find it so difficult to believe someone wouldn’t want a plastic bag?

I’m trying my best to reduce my consumption here.  Plastic is a by-product of crude oil and often ends up in landfills.  On the rare occasion I don’t have a reusable tote with me and need a bag, I always reuse or recycle the plastic bag, which although not ideal, is better than tossing it carelessly in the trash.  Declining (or recycling) a plastic bag is such a simple step towards a better planet.

Do you own reusable totes?  What is your policy for using plastic shopping bags?


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