The Crazy Bag People Inside of Us


“Plastic shopping bags are an enormous problem for New York City,” said Ron Gonen, the deputy commissioner of sanitation for recycling and waste reduction, noting that the city pays $10 million annually to send 100,000 tons of plastic bags that are tossed in the general trash to landfills in South Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania. That, he points out, “is amazing to think of, because a plastic bag doesn’t weigh much at all.”

Quick, how many plastic bags do you have under your sink or stuffed in a drawer in your home? Probably a lot. I bring reusable bags with me to the grocery store but still manage to have a bunch crammed under my sink (they are from the drugstore, or shops like Bed Bath and Beyond, or from all those times I randomly decided to pick up something from the grocery store and didn’t have bags with me). Some cities like Austin have already banned plastic bags, while many others have fees of five cents per bag or more to incentivize shoppers to switch to reusable ones. Also, sorry for giving you our garbage, other states.

Photo: taberandrew

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23 Comments / Post A Comment

terrific (#1,532)

even worse is that they double-bag EVERYTHING in New York. whyyyyy. yesterday the cashier tried to double-bag ONE STALK OF CELERY. I glared at her and removed it and put it in my reusable bag, and then I felt bad for glaring at her but seriously

@terrific They double-bagged my baguette yesterday. Aaaahahaha, I also removed it and was like, “Yeah, I can just carry this.”

Mae (#1,769)

They’re banned in Seattle, and I do not miss them one bit.

Panamanda (#2,713)

@Mae They’re banned here in Long Beach as well, and I second this completely. I frequently forget my reusable bags, so end up with quite a few ten-cent paper bags, which then get used for my trash or recycling (so…no complaints about that part either!). There were a lot of complaints when it was first enacted, but after a month or two it seems everyone got on board.

They’re banned here in Santa Cruz, and if you want a paper bag, it’s 10 cents. So I just always have a reusable bag in my purse. I don’t really mind it. A lot of older people complain, but I think if they had done stuff like this when they were my age, global warming wouldn’t have accelerated so much. So yeah..reusable bags!

Please give me all your plastic bags as I will use them to pick up my dog’s poo. I refuse to buy special bags for that purpose, that is absurd. As a result, I no longer ever have too many bags. Also, you could just buy a bag hutch.

franklina (#3,924)

@Michelle LeBlanc@twitter In a similar vein, I use plastic grocery bags for garbage as a single person whose apartment is near the communal building garbage repository. Started doing this out of laziness when I ran out of garbage bags, and now I am extremely opposed to paying $ for garbage bags.

(That said, I realize this is a little extreme/odd and would probably just complain a little and get used to it if plastic bags cost $0.05)

Heckyes (#1,162)

@Michelle LeBlanc@twitter Alternatively. donate them to your local animal shelter for them to use as dog poop bags!

Smallison (#155)

@Michelle LeBlanc@twitter Yes! Me, too! In fact, sometimes I need to sneak a few extras from the grocery store so that I have enough.

@Michelle LeBlanc@twitter In Toronto (Ontario more generally?) it’s 5 cents per plastic bag. I generally carry my canvas bags everywhere, and for heavier groceries I have bins.

As a result, whenever I’m in the US or Alberta I stock up on plastic bags for the cat’s litter. The rest get used for wastebaskets. The way plastic bags are just given away en masse in many parts of the continent amazes me.

@Michelle LeBlanc@twitter I use reusable grocery bags but sometimes I forget to bring them in so I end up with plastic bags anyway. I loop the handles over the gearshift in my car and use them as trash receptacles.

amirite (#2,677)

@Michelle LeBlanc@twitter Yes, I use them for scooping cat litter into, and I never seem to have enough. Sometimes I ask for a bag at stores even though I have my reusable bag with me in my purse at all times. Give me your plastic bags please!

calamity (#2,577)

They cost 5 cents in DC. I always manage to forget my bag/underestimate how much stuff I’m going to buy just often enough to keep the small wastebasket in my room lined with a plastic grocery bag, so I can’t complain.

sea ermine (#122)

I want to start using reusable bags but then I don’t know what I’ll put my trash in. I mean, I could buy garbage bags but I don’t see the point of paying for them when stores give me them for free, especially since they aren’t any better for the environment than the free one’s. Unless there are reusable garbage bags? How would that even work?

CL (#3,590)

My city banned shopping bags a few years ago, so I started shopping in another city because I’m not a monster who buys garbage bags.

limenotapple (#1,748)

I have a wonderful tote bag made of plastic bags…some smart person collected plastic grocery bags, made them into a rope, and crocheted the greatest, strongest reusable bag ever.

TheDilettantista (#1,255)

I bring my totes to the grocery store but every now and then I do stock up on plastic bags because I use them to hold my cat litter when I am scooping the boxes. The litter boxes are far away from the garbage can, and just dumping the loose litter into the garbage is icky (and makes it smell bad), so while I am dumping my plastic bags i am at least re-using them first.

As you can tell I still feel guilty about this, but I don’t know of any other ways to dispose of cat litter in my current living situation.

amirite (#2,677)

@TheDilettantista In my city (or at least, in one of the cities I’ve lived in, I actually can’t remember which), you are required to double bag pet waste, so it might feel extravagant, but it’s necessary.

Tatiana (#194)

Yeah, if you want a bag in SF (I think plastic bags are banned but still see them from time to time), it’ll cost you 10 cents. As a result I am fresh out of bags (plastic or paper) at my apartment and am now wondering where to put my trash. Must buy more 10 cent paper bags the next time I go to Whole Foods.

squishycat (#3,000)

@Tatiana I hoard plastic bags that I get in other cities (or from retailers/restaurants that ignore the legislation) so I can actually clean my cat’s litter box. (There seems to be an exception, also, for certain types of plastic bags? I know the store I work at uses plastic bags as well as paper, and charges the requisite 10¢ a bag for either – the plastic bags seem to be made of a rather different kind of plastic than the plastic grocery bags most people were talking about when they instituted the ban.)

Tatiana (#194)

@squishycat oh yeah! i think those are the eco-friendly ones. they’re kinda soft and smooth right? and yeah… that’s what my zipcar runs to the daly city target are for (goods and plastic bags)! i should probably do that again soon. :P

theballgirl (#1,546)

I hate to be the uh, downer here, but plastic bags take a really long ass time to decompose. So re-using them once or twice really doesn’t help. Reusing them like 100x would be much better, albeit completely unrealistic. In the end, the best thing is to 1. find alternative uses for them that last long term, (such as upcycling to create something usable), or 2. not get them ever ever ever

Daniel B (#2,486)

I use them to ferry my food to work, then when I work out they come home full of stinky workout clothes (and then they get consigned to the trash). We still seem to accumulate them even though I am the person who has extra reusable bags at the end of my shopping trips.

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