Originally uploaded by Bake & Destroy!
Ok, so I’m about to freak some of you guys out by showing a side of myself I don’t make public very often. It’s the side of me that gives a shit. I decided a long time ago that I was too old and too crabby to wear shirts proclaiming my opinions on eating animals, American beauty standards and whether or not you should kill your local drug dealer (to my Flickr friends, if you look hard enough, you can actually find me in a pretty sweet t-shirt addressing that one in particular) and on the surface it seemed as though I stopped caring about those things. But I didn’t. Just because you don’t wear your heart on your sleeve doesn’t mean you don’t have one, as black and cold as it may be. Deep down, under all the tattoos of medieval weaponry and Satyricon t-shirts there is a closet activist. I’m too lazy to participate in fun runs so I donate cupcake earnings to causes I deem worthy and I’m too anti-social to actually talk to anyone, so instead of handing out PETA fliers I just don’t eat animals and call it a day. But I do bring my own bags to the grocery store, I will say that much for myself. Never mind the fact that my mother-in-law sews them all for me, right now we’re talking about me and how great I am.
Anyway, the reason I’m posting this is that I’ve noticed “nice” grocery stores are all about the BYOB (bring your own bag) kick. At Trader Joe’s they even ask “do you have a bag?” at the check out. No one looks at you like you’re blowing a prime opportunity for a free plastic bag, no one expects you to pack your own food into your “crazy” bag, no one bags your shit in plastic anyway and then shoves the plastic bag into your cloth bag and no one rolls their eyes when you hold up your own bag and wiggle it suggestively in their faces. I don’t get it, because even at the shittiest grocery stores they SELL cloth bags now. Are the employees unclear about what those bags are for? Do you think they’re like, “Why would anyone want to buy an ugly ass Jewel-Osco purse for $2?” Blarg! It’s so frustrating! Don’t you just want to be like, “I’m saving the environment, assface! now quit giving me dirty looks and put my over-packaged Boca burgers in the tote bag!”
Alright, so maybe I’m the broad who made homemade ketchup this week end because I’m freaked out about giving Teno high fructose corn syrup, but I’m really not a crazy person. I own a bike, I do not think I’m cool for owning said bike. (Um hi, everyone in Chicago… did you read that part?) I eat dairy, I shop at Target, I own a car. (It’s a station wagon too, word up.) I only really eat organic when I buy it at The Bleeding Heart Bakery because I’m a glutton. What I’m saying is I’m a normal person, I do a lot of bad things, but the one good thing I try to do all the time- bring my own fucking bag to the fucking grocery store- gets me shit every time!
But I won’t take this injustice lying down folks, oh no. As you read this I am shooting e-mails to customer service rooms all over the country. It occurred to me that a lot of you might be facing similar issues so I decided to post a sort of generic form letter than you can copy, change here and there (or not) and paste into an email of your own to your local grocery store that gives you attitude about bringing your own bag. I’m also going to post some e-mail addresses of stores I’ve been to that treated me like an asshole for not wanting their precious plastic bags and I’m asking that you leave comments with e-mail addresses to your local stores too so we can all e-mail and bitch together!
It’s the laziest revolution ever and I’m at the helm in my Hello Kitty pajamas eating American Idol cookies and cream ice cream.
So here’s my letter, alter it as you please and viva la revolution!
I appreciate your store’s efforts in reducing consumer waste by offering reusable cloth bags for sale at the check out. Undoubtedly this action alone has prevented tens of thousands of plastic bags from ending up in landfills already. I’m writing today to ask that you inform your employees, specifically baggers, about these efforts as in my experience, they seem to be unaware of the existence or purpose of cloth grocery bags. I make an effort to bring as many cloth bags with me as I can when I shop your stores and the baggers are consistently confused by my actions. Sometimes they ignore my bags and bag my items in plastic anyway, other times they roll their eyes and act like I’m making some kind of outlandish request. I’ve noticed that other stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s ask customers if they’ve brought their own bags, or if they notice that you have they simply ask you for the bag and pack up your items. I don’t recall ever leaving one of those stores frustrated because I had to unpack my items and then repack them into my own bags, or because the bagger gave me attitude about my request. I ask that you inform your employees about the growing trend of customers bringing their own bags to your stores and try to make the whole experience less intimidating for those of us who are making an effort. Thank you.
Or… you can send them something far more hilarious like the e-mail my friend Tara just forwarded me:
Dear Jewel Baggers,
Please stop rolling your eyes at me when I come in with my own bags. The place where you work sells these bags as part of their effort to clean up the plastic waste problem this country is facing. They sell them for a dollar each, which is awesome, by the way. Perhaps your managers need to make you watch National Geographic’s “Strange Days on Planet Earth” to get a little perspective on the plastic bag problem. They are already banned in numerous countries. What on earth would you do if they were banned here? No more eye rolling, that’s for sure! In conclusion, when you see me coming in with my bags, please just do your job and BAG.
Sincerely, tree hugger AND frequent customer
Strack and Van Til (their shit’s broken, I’ll update this when it’s fixed)
OK, the best thing about this post is that I’ve never heard of 3 out of the 5 places you shop. GIves me hope for the non-homogenization of America! Here’s the places I get stared at for bringing my own bag: Ingles, Kroger, CVS, and Piggly Wiggly. OK, there’s not really a piggly wiggly in Asheville. I just wanted to say Piggly Wiggly.
SF is pretty good about now giving crazy looks about having your own bag, but I still get the, “Are you sure you don’t need a bag?!” from time to time.
One thing that a Michigan grocery chain does for promoting cloth bag use…they offer a $0.05 discount on your bill for every cloth bag used. It would be nice if the other chains had this incentive, I sincerely think that for some people it’s the only way to get them to use a cloth bag. Hit them in the pocket book!
thank you for this post. It made me go through my “bag drawer” and around my apartment and realize I have WAY too many plastic bags in my apartment… like over 100 🙁 i try to use cloth bags whenever i go to the store, but my roommate will NOT use cloth/canvas onces. Even going to the store to get a simple eyeliner, she will come home with it in a large plastic bag that both my dogs can fit inside.
Our grocery chain stores try to push the canvas ones as much as possible. 99 cents, or you pay 5 cents per plastic bag.. thats there way of cutting down.. which works alot. AND if you use cloth/canvas, your groceries get bagged. If you buy plastic, you bag your own!
The question is now…. what do you do with all the plastic bags once you have them. I would love to get rid of them all…
That’s funny, bringing my own bags is the one good thing I do too. That and giving blood once every 7 years or so. It kills me when i show I brought my bags but they start wrapping my wine and milk in plastic anyway. I’m like, I’ll take my chances, ding-dongs.
Um, hell yeah.
I just pack all my foodstuffs into the bag I pack everything into and carry with me all the time. Circumventing the plastic bags is like disrupting a hymn that nobody wanted to sing in the first place–everyone should be relieved to sidestep a bad thing, but instead, they just get confused that something different is happening.
When I lived in Little Village, the dynamic was extra-interesting.
I know you’re not in NY, but I think you’re a vegetarian? If not, at least you post a lot of cool vegan recipes heh.
Going to be awesome, might be worth an East coast trip. Manhattan has more vegetarian restaurants than you can shake a stick at.
On topic, it’s awesome you’ve kicked the plastic bag addiction. This country is way too hooked on the conveniences. I just ordered a huge pack of used terry cloth bar towels on ebay for 33 dollars including shipping, like 72 of them, to kick the paper napkin and towel habit too. Paper goods are another really overused convenience.
(hope I didn’t come off as a jerkface, I have no idea how to write comments and not ramble senselessly heh)
just saying is all.
fyi on your side note about the ketchup. I found some that my dh w/food allergies up the wazoo can have, and it’s sweetened with fruit juice instead of HFCS. Forgot the brand but I get it at either Whole Foods or Fruitful Yield in the NW burbs of chicago.
And I also believe it’s hysterical, when you are shelling out the $1 or $2 to buy the “fauxcloth” bags they sell at target and jewel, that they try to put them in a plastic bag. I always have to tell the checker, hey no, you can use that now-I paid for it, so load it up bucko…..not in those words ezackly, but you know what I mean.