Anti-Environmentalism – Grocery Bags

Fin and I are fairly big about taking reusable trash bags to the grocery store whenever we shop. Green grocery bags are interesting to me for a few reasons. As far as “going green” goes, switching to reusable grocery bags is one of the easiest moves to make. More amazing to me is how telling people’s reactions about trash and the checkout line can be.

Funny enough, grocery bags put me over the edge from thinking about the “anachronism” concept here, to actually living it. A few years ago, I lived in a small apartment within walking distance to a super market. When I say walking distance, I mean visitors to the complex sometimes used back spots of the market for parking. As uber-bachelor, I kept my kitchen with the required necessities: ketchup, mustard, alcohol, pickles, and random baking stuff years old carted from each move and woefully out of date. Moving next to a store let me stop by, pick-up dinner for the night, and simplify my epic fail meal planning.

This grandiose plan didn’t come immediately, but after I got in my car, drove across the parking lot, loaded the car with groceries, and drove back across the same parking lot to unload. I think the thought was: “wow, this is lame-ass lazy for even me.” So, I started walking. After making the journey a few times I decided a couple things. First, buying groceries that day, and cooking never frozen meat and (sorta) fresh fish is awesome. Second, plastic groceries bags suck. I noticed the store was selling reusable grocery bags ($0.99) and offering a $0.05 refund for using them. I have a few bags now which have paid for themselves several times over.

The thing that got me though, was my initial reaction to the thought of buying one: “I don’t want people to group me with those environmentalists.” Then, I just got mad. Somehow, someone had put into my head the idea that purchasing a 99 cent bag would lead me straight into being a Green Peace hippy blowing up SUVs. Isn’t it funny how some ideas have a life of their own?

Over the past 2 years I’ve heard multiple people say, “I like the reusable but don’t want to use one with Go Green written on it”. That’s not as bothersome as when I hear things that amount to “reusable grocery bags are communism”. Point is, as reusable bags become more prolific, I hear multiple people saying the exact same things that went through my head when I made the switch.

At times, when I’m at the grocery line, I get reactions verging on offence when I give the cashier a reusable bag. Reusable bags long ago lost their novelty for me. Now, they’re just part of my life. I keep them in my trunk, and try to remember to bring them when I go in the store. Most cashier’s treat them as routine. And then, there are the special that do things like bag items into plastic sacks and then place those in the bag…

Cloth bags are convenience for me, not environmentalism. I don’t go through grocery stores and snear at people not using them. I’m really beyond even thinking they’re a big deal.

Still, they illustrate a larger issue, one that I’m trying to wrap my head around and plan to explore here. Of the two of us, Fin is more of an environmentalist. I simply enjoy exploring ideas and value free thinking. I understand the drive and desires of the environmentalist. I understand the not being an environmentalist. What I find concerning is the growing population of otherwise normal people actively anti-environmentalist.

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