This past week I was in DC, I am just now recovering after coming back to work with an Umpteen amount of taskers due, that “Only Anne” can do!  Getting that done was a sigh of relief, then all the chores at home ensued – Grass, garden, Coon-watch, general cleaning the house, and sewing….it doesn’t end!  Either-way, I witnessed something this past week, and nearly gasped a blackhole in front of myself – thought how stupid!  Here goes because Somebody Has to Say it…..

I love going to DC and taking in a bit of the shopping that we don’t have around in Norfolk area.  Namely this time, I focused my efforts at IKEA – looking for kitchen gadgets, frames and fabric (of course).  I found some great deals stocked up and loved it when I went to check out and saw their “bag policy”.  A lot of items you purchase at IKEA, as we know, come in boxes so bags are unnecessary, however!!! if you are buying small items like I was I could definitely use a bag to carry all my items in.  Ikea implements a $.05 charge for each bag – the plastic ones that you get at most stores.  I thought, wow! this is different, why don’t all places implement this?  I hate plastic bags!  For many reasons:

1.  They use petroleum.  Um hello!  can we please find some way to start separating ourselves from this resource.  We are like crack addicts when it comes to this.  Yes I drive a car everyday, but I do write letters to my Senator stressing the need to write a responsible energy policy that allows businesses and consumers to have a healthy relationship….not like things are going currently under the super secret energy policy where somehow Exxon is making GADBILLONS of dollars, and we are paying 4 bucks at the pump.  Eff that!

2.  They are everywhere!!  What I mean is I get INFURIATED when I see plastic bags from our big box stores littering the highways, farmer’s fields and rolling across our landscape like urban tumbleweeds.  Come on now!  There are receptacles everywhere for trash, even recycling ones for plastic bags JUST LIKE THE ONE that just flew out of that car!  I know I am probably preaching to the choir here.  Something interesting and encouraging though – There is a movement in Isle of Wight county (South-East Virginia) government moving to eliminate all plastic bags from the commerce in the county.  HUZZAHfor them.  The problem is not just local.  Isle of Wight is a major cotton exporting county – globally.  When the farmers harvest their cotton with their 21st century Eli Whitney inspired cotton gins, they are also scooping up all those damn plastic bags that are littering their fields.  The cotton is processed through the machine with the plastic bags, lowering the quality of the cotton crop the farmer can sell.  That sucks for all of us – clothing that is produced with this cotton are defective because the dye doesn’t take as well, the farmer suffers because his cotton is considered substandard and he then doesn’t get the money he expects from his crop – thus resulting in his lowering living standard.  Secondary and tertiary effects occur from something seemingly so small.  So I can totally understand and applaud Isle of Wight for this movement.  I hope it pushes right through and becomes a grassroots example for other counties across the nation. 

3.  They are a freaking waste!  They tear, they rip, and half the time all your stuff falls out of them when you are hauling your groceries/products home.  I think for this reason, the state of Ohio is implementing a no plastic bag rule.  Residents there use laundry baskets to haul their items in on grocery day.  The shopping cart is used to take the items to the car.  Genius and so simple! 

4.  They aren’t reusable for much of anything accept maybe your PB&J for lunch.  If you put much more in there they will tear, rip and your stuff will fall out.  SO FRUSTRATING!

Ok so back to IKEA.  In order to keep their plastic bag usage down, they provide another option for their consumers than just paying the $.05 fee.  They sell the CHEAPEST!!! reusable shopping bag I have found to date.  And it is the biggest….GLORIA ALLELUIA!  These bags rock!  They are only $.59 and seem like a converted blue tarp with handles.  I only had to buy one, just one, to fit my frames, lazy susan, omelet spatula, and fabric in.  It was awesome.  I brought all my stuff home in it, it didn’t roll out, it didn’t rip, and it didn’t tear!  Oh and here is a concept….I can reuse it! 

So, where is the “somebody has to say it part of the story?”  Hold my hand we are going to jump ahead in time and place to a target in Fredericksburg, VA (of which there are 3 Targets in about a 10 mile radius along Interstate 95 – gotta love that run-off from the 100 acre parking lots….yea about that! our Chesapeake Bay Watershed is getting healthier – yea right) – AHEM! sorry I digress – I go in to buy a some cloth diapers for a sewing project, just one package, no bag necessary *YES*.  I am on the que waiting to pay and this lady in front of me is buying a bunch of crap, cart full of crap, to include a handful of the reusable shopping bags….$.99 at Target, red fabric, cute and I am proud….As she is checking out, the cashier asks her if she wants to use her reusable shopping bags for all her stuff.  Guess what she said??  Nope you are wrong, she didn’t say the common sense answer – “Sure, that is what I got them for”, she replied “Oh no, just throw them in a plastic bag I will get them ready later”.  GET THEM READY LATER???  What the hell, what is there to get ready with a shopping bag?  You just have to open it up and stuff your crap in there. 

I was appalled, and I think the cashier saw the look on my face.  He didn’t say anything until she walk away with her over-flowing cart.  He said, “I think she missed the point” with a chuckle.  I replied, in a most lady-like manner – “No crap! Somebody needed to slap some sense into her.”  Yikes!!!  I paid for my diapers, soon to be Baby Starling and Baby Engel presents, you will see after the showers, and went on my way.  Irritated with that demographic of people who buy the stuff, I guess to look good or keep up appearances, but continue to act against what is being advocated. 

So here it is, being said – If you buy reusable shopping bags, use them.  Be advocates for a cleaner planet, a happy farmer and a not so wasteful humanity.  In Oct 2008 IKEA will discontinue the use of plastic shopping bags.  I think we as members of humanity can do what we can and reduce the use of those plastic bags, reuse the ones we already have and replace with reusable ones, and finally recycle the remanents of the over-used and torn bags.  We can do it! 

 More:  Check out my dear friend Jessica’s blog where she talks on the same topic