I am a reusable bag junkie.
You say “BYOB,” and I bring my own bag. The store clerks ask, “paper or plastic?” I smugly reply, “neither.” You see me strut into the grocery store toting totes filled with totes. What you don’t see is my obsession.
I didn’t just jump on the reusable-bag bandwagon – I leapt. My addiction began with a simple, unbleached organic cotton model. Sleek in style with sturdy handles. No logos, no patterns, no nonsense. I liked how it felt walking through the supermarket parking lot carrying my empty bags, knowing people were looking at me wishing they had thought to bring their own. But they weren’t green enough, together enough, hip enough… not like me.
Then one day, only weeks after my original reusable bag purchase, I saw a better model. It stared at me in the Whole Foods checkout line. It was lighter weight and made of a hemp weave. Artistically highlighted with a vegetable dye stripe in a muted shade of eggplant. “Fair trade” whispered to me from the cloth label.
I bought five.
No longer needing the organic cotton bags, they found their way into my husband’s trunk, thus alleviating my guilt, and I switched to the hemp weave.
Stores began enticing me with incentives to arrive bag-in-hand. At Trader Joes I could win hundreds of dollars in free groceries and at Sunset Foods they donate five cents to School District 112 for every bag brought in. Bags, bags, I needed more bags.
It wasn’t long before the hemp weave bags were loaded into my son’s car, making room in my life for a full set of sturdy bags made from recycled plastic bottles. I fooled myself into believing they were better for carrying milk. Until I saw the insulated reusable bags. I needed two: one would keep my milk cold and my ice cream frozen while another would ensure a warm roasted chicken for dinner. I had to have them!
Soon the recycled bottle bags were relocated to a dusty existence on a shelf in my garage. They were joined by carry-alls sent by The World Wildlife Fund (along with some return address labels) because I made a five dollar donation back in 1989. Bags from golf outings, walk-a-thons, Free People, Lululemon and Mark Shale began to fill my laundry room shelves. I knew better than to ever throw away a reusable-bag.
The day I realized I truly had a problem was the day my sister showed me her new Michelle Obama “First Lady of Fabulous” bag she had gotten as a gift. I bought twelve.
What was I to do with dozens upon dozens of eco-friendly bags? I was beginning to think maybe I wasn’t as “green” as my intentions.
I hang my head in shame. And here is what I am going to do about it. I found an organization that will actually recycle the surplus bags and get them in the hands of others. I am going to send my reusable-bags to:
c/o Zero Waste Program
13434 Browns Valley Drive
Chico, CA 95973
I will keep my “First Lady of Fabulous” bags of course, but then I plan to go cold turkey. Wait a minute…
I’ll need at least one insulated bag for that.