Friday, November 4, 2011

Bagging out..

bag ladies.

In every city i visit, i find stores and entire aisles dedicated to the art of the satchel. Leather goods, plastic arts, all materials are represented in as many styles as lifestyles. Somewhere about the bustle of alleys and parks, i invariably notice women carrying bags in various stages of decay. Some push carts which are loaded with bagged possessions. Container and content part and parcel of same.

The bag has become a symbol of affluence, the more luggage, the more riches. But the baggage becomes the burden of this age. We soon are strangled by the multitude of ever thinning resources, which must be contained for fear, they will eventually possess us. Zippered, tapered, locked and snapped, Guccied or Vuittonized, trends and fashions clutter the wallet and the market—not to mention, the very planet we tend to say we love...

Sure, no designer purse will exterminate the Florida alligator. No single briefcase will decimate the Brazilian cattle. But the flimsy little bag which steams up your veggies and isolates your tub of chicken livers from the nearest Super- Mart will definitely cause some poor fish to die prematurely from ingesting pelletised plastics in the Ocean.

It is not a case of importance, but one of quantity. The US uses bags at an alarming rate; 100 billion in one consumer country; that amounts to 1500 per person. 12 billion barrels of oil, are used to fabricate the flimsy things to carry more futile objects and processed items. These bags will live between 400 and 1000 years in a multitude of stages, strangle wild life, choke fish and ducks, and finally wash down rivers to break into microscopic plastic particles to end up as carcinogenics in the meat of your favorite food chain item.

Talk about end game and product, could man have designed a more perfect multi-generational food chain reaction? On purpose? The trouble with us is that few scientists bother to compute the complete life cycle of each invention. So now we are faced with the results of a marvelous convenience, the plastic bag. I don't have a medicine pouch to wave at the problem, but i do have numbers to demonstrate what many are doing about it.

Around the world in eighty bags, the satchel chronicles.

Australia: phased out bags end of 08 -- Bangladesh: ban and levy on plastic bags-- Britain: the Prime Minister pressured law makers to eliminate bags -- China: began to phase out June 21st 08 -- Ireland: charges 29 cents per bag -- Europe has had fees since the 80s -- Uganda has imposed a ban on bags -- US. California and New-York impose recycling in major stores. San Francisco first US city to ban bags by April's Earth day, and many stores try the barrel-by-the-door to entice recycling – eco-minded town councils wave arms to improve the city's aesthetics by pleading citizens to limit usage of disposables..good luck on training the masses!.

Progress - progress, too late and not enough, where to start? The EPA claims that it is up to local waste management to deal with it. Do we have the necessary self discipline? Can we overcome the rebellion over ecologic authority? I do see signs of a growing concern. The reasoning may be faulty; but if it will steer people into an act of conscience, hey? Aim for the sensitive areas ( pocket and charge card)

The local Hy-Vee store in our small town offers re-usable green bags for $1.00 free on certain holidays..It is not a social disgrace to carry your own bag. No jaw will drop, nor bag boy faint for the honorable act of self discipline. I have a multitude of bags, donated library book bags, second hand gadget bags with fancy logos from one major advertiser, take a photo of yourself holding the free advertisement and earn a free coupon from the company's . com website. Do you have a nylon catch all and stagnant travel bags? They' re light and easy to save and carry. There is no excuse to keep using plastic grocery bags.

Well, yes there is, how about the multitasking tips for the spares you already have accumulated? A classic, inside out scooper, or rain hat, a Stuff picker-upper, or stuff thrower, stuff storer. A wild edibles collector, refrigerator cleaner. Quite handy for isolating wet bathing suits in the SUV or for those ripe tennis shoes, or yet the hot and sweaty vacation clothing . Some folks even cut bags in strips and make trailer-park-art rugs, knit or crochet at will, i am told they last, uh? Forever. And to top this off, Halloween mini costume, you use your own imagination for that one; I don't practice anything involving too many sweets and screaming children in close proximity...

Paper or plastic? Pulp or oil? one is biodegradable, one is not--one is heavy--one is light. Neither offers a solution, so get out that gaudy beach bag with the long lived shells and blooms sewn on it, and go forth to dazzle the store clerks with your new-found conscience, or just break down and spring a buck for a sturdy little green bag.

From my alter ego, the bag lady, Madame Pochette, happy bagging, you' all!


  1. I recycle all my bags. To be perfectly honest I much preferred the old paper grocery bags, I used to make the kids' textbook covers from them, and also to wrap packages for shipping. Those flimsy plastic bags suck, but I've found a use for them as well, as padding for shipping fragile items. I use the fiber bags as well, but often forget to bring them to the grocery store. Shame on me...

  2. Nadine, great post--with conscience! We now use reusable cloth bags too which are washable and last almost forever. They are not difficult to use ---and by the way, whatever happened to good old paper grocery bags?

  3. raymond and katley, thanks for commenting, you already are aware, the post is not just about bags--but about a way of living, a reminder to remind ourselves to consider the source and the destination of anything we use...this was also a rehash post which i once had on greenadine...recycling words

  4. I wish we could make the simple global decision in the Western World to ban the disposable plastic bag. Wouldn't it be simple. Over here in Wales the charge for bags came in a couple of months ago. One guy was outraged because he'd spent £500 on a suit and the cashier had the audacity to ask him for 10p for his carrier bag. Poor guy eh? Fancy having to find that money after spending so much ...

    Although paper bags sound better, I've heard they are WORSE than plastic. I've still not make up my mind but it's worth looking at the facts before we issue a knee jerk reaction.

  5. since it is a global problem, bags could be generally outlawed--but as you suggest mrs green, we must study the options with more care than was given to the decision to shower the world with fly-by plastics...
    paper is my feel good choice; but if it must cost trees and oil, i cannot recommend using too many of those i still carry my own fun bags whenever i go shopping..and find people really beginning to appreciate this--next step--to imitate this simple practice.

  6. I've become obsessive about taking my own bags to the grocery store, but somehow forget them most of the time on trips to the pharmacy or general stores.

    I'm thinking of using them as 'gift' bags to serve as a reminder to friends.

    This is a great post, nadine, and as much as the Ticker on FB irritates me, it led me here through Raymond's comment.

    My apologies in advance if this posts twice.

  7. Great article. I also mourn the disappearance of water and milk in glass bottles,amongst other things, they tasted so much better! As you probably remember too, in France we had a "consigne" and a return bottle would see you richer by a centimes or two and thus responsabilised you a little.
    Plastic is an evil substance!

  8. blu, glad you had a ticker to alert you to my hibernating mode, i should be able to post some new pieces in dec. bags--yes i have given gifts in them and received luxurious holiday foods in them..also i have made some fashionable ones with spare cloth, they hold up and wash up better than the flimsy ones sold in stores..personalize the bags, choose colors and slip some fun advice in the gift bag..happy sacking!

  9. 'responsabilize' yes a must word in our new lexicon..we assume that others will find the value in clean taste and refunds for heavier glass containers--so far it has not been anymore popular than the cloth bag--but there is hope, especially in cities where people of like minds may the wide and wild unruly mid section there seems to be too much land separating ideals, and the environment suffers the lack of cohesion..
    we'll add the word to the 3 r's reduce--re-use-- re-cycle--resposibilize? might work..

  10. This is absolutely wonderful! I feel your despair, hope, and frustration all in one! I'd love to use your quote, "It is not a social disgrace to carry your own bag. No jaw will drop, nor bag boy faint for the honorable act of self discipline."--Nadinesellers or Nadine Sellers or Last Known Nest.....whichever you prefer. This is SO potent and NEEDS to be tweeted out and posted on facebook! I'm writing up a post about my experience of going bagless and this would be perfect. THANK YOU for thinking the way you do! And let me know if I can use your quote? :)
    Jennifer Ward-Pelar of militaryzerowaste

  11. HELLO JENNIFER! you may quote anything you like out of my green meanderings...i have no ego involved in this lifestyle and consider it my duty to share what i have learned or read along the me nadine sellers no caps needed, i don't value the name over the person..we are all here for a purpose..
    you have contributed to my 'happiness quotient today...again

  12. JENNIFER,i appreciate your will to link to my blog, i see the need to separate subjects into tidier thought patterns.
    although i am quite organized in the drawer, closets,cabinets and garden departments, i sorely lack writer's literary files follow the stream of thought and occasionally dunk me into despair and drown me..
    i will open a green page as you have done where i will provide artichoke to zoophyte info...