28 - 2008

Plastic bags passe?

The other day I went to our local grocery store and saw this:

bag sign

I’m still kind of new to my camera phone, so it’s a hideous shot (and I wasn’t shopping at a totally deserted store … just managed to get no one in my shot!).

But the orange sign is a handwritten sign that says “Did you remember to bring your bags?”

My grocery store (a King Soopers store two blocks from my house) has always accepted my bring-my-own bags without any argument. I purchase gift cards from my daughter’s school (they get 5 or 10 percent of the amount back), and when the card is empty, the checker takes it and says, “I’ll throw that out for you — or actually, we reuse them.”

I found a sack of plastic bags in my laundry room and took them to King Soopers’ bag recycling bin. It’s a large barrel where shoppers can put their bags, and it’s often full. In the past I’ve assumed it is seldom emptied, and that’s why it’s full. That morning, around 9 a.m., the barrel was empty. “Yippee!” I thought, and dumped my sack into the barrel.

Later that same day, around 6 p.m., I walked back over to the store to pick up an item for dinner. On my way out I glanced at the barrel. It was completely full, with a bag of bags on top and two more bags sitting on the floor next to it.

It appears infrequent emptying isn’t the issue. It’s that people are eliminating their plastic bag stashes.

The other day when I was shopping, at least 40 to 50 percent of the shoppers had their own bags with them. Just a year or so ago, there might be just me and perhaps one other shopper with their own bags in the store at any given time. And the bag sign and the comments are the kind of service one used to get only at a natural foods market.

Sea change!

Are you seeing this change in your neighborhood? What will become of the plastic bag industry?

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