Sunday, March 20, 2011

Plastic Not-So Fantastic

Some questions are asked so frequently that they kind of become a joke. A hackneyed, overplayed, not-so-funny-anymore kind of joke.

Think "Boxers or briefs?"

Or "Paper or plastic?"

In recent years, I have made a conscious effort to not use plastic bags when I go grocery shopping. I have a few reusable bags (which, for the record, always amaze me with how much they can hold) and if I don't have enough of my own bags, I prefer paper bags, which I can use for my paper recycling. No fuss, no muss - no piles of of flimsy plastic bags that always leave me wondering whether they really will be recycled properly or just sit in a landfill somewhere. {Here's a site that is semi-helpful when it comes to learning more about plastic bag recycling}

But...well, is it me, or does it seem like grocery stores are really pushing people to use plastic bags?

If I ask for paper, I am asked in return "Paper inside of plastic?" No. Just paper. Pa-per.

If I'm bagging, and the check-out person decides to help bag the last few items, what does he or she automatically grab - even though not a single plastic bag has touched my hands? That's right. Plastic.

Last week, knowing I would need a few paper bags in addition to my own bags, I watched in horror as the check-out person actually removed a stack of paper bags, put them in hiding under the counter and presented a fresh pack of plastic bags. I felt a barely-audible whimper slip out as I stood by, almost helpless as my choice was taken away. I had to wonder if this was a global initiative by the store - is it cheaper for the store to offer plastic instead of paper?

I got my paper bags in the end, but wonder how many people would just go with the flow and not notice or care what bags are used, just like I used to do. Who knows. But I came across this article that breaks down the issue of paper vs. plastic.

Maybe one day, there won't even be a question of "Paper or plastic?"