Thursday, September 11, 2008

Grocery store rant #2

Me and the local Shaw's have a history. See earlier rant But lately it's more than just my local chain grocery store, it's all stores. Even the Ace Hardware store in town is doing it. The idea of the "reusable bag"? Out-of-freaking control, people! At first, when the bandwagon just started rolling it seemed like a positive idea. Reduce waste from plastic: buy a heavy duty bag you can bring back to use over and over! Aren't we good planet savers. Pat ourselves on the materialist back(not philosophic Materialism, I'm talking the good old fashioned American Consumerism kind).

Going Green Goes Mainstream. Hoo-freakin'-rah. Whatever.

Shaw's gave out a "free" bag if you participated in a survey. I wonder how many people who love anything free got themselves a free bag that now sits in the corner with other bags they've recently been enticed to impulse buy. Every time they go to the store they get to the register and realize they've once again left the handy reusable bags at home. So they see the Shaw's re-use bags are only a buck and, what the heck, I can always use another bag, right? Or they just keep on doing what they've always done--use the plastic bags. So now not only are they still using the throw-away bags, but they've also accumulated the reusable ones at home. By attempting to reduce they've actually increased their consumption. Why would marketers want it any other way? They don't. I also see displays by the freezer section of "high-tech" silver hot/cold insulator bags for when your regular heavy duty bag isn't enough to get your groceries home safely. Gotta buy a few of those, too.

It's like the whole point is being lost here. This is not supposed to be an opportunity to fill our trunks, closets, entryways with marketing-covered crap. It's supposed to be about reducing waste, reusing what we already have, maybe even looking around home to see what bags you already own and could use for groceries if you wanted to (like say--backpacks, schoolbags, other plastic grocery bags). And then, this is the critical piece, remember to bring them with you next time. But the consumer vision of America has turned it into another thing to have, to buy, to accumulate. Another bandwagon that stores don't want to miss out on. Another opportunity to plaster a surface with marketing material. Another way for people "to feel like they're doing something for the planet" while still accumulating ever more stuff. And where will all these newfangled "reusable" bags that aren't getting used end up? In the trash, of course.

I'm not saying I'm necessarily for or against either the plastic bag or reusable bag paradigms. I mean, without plastic grocery bags, my job of cleaning out the cat box would be more problematic. When I remember, I'll take a backpack or an old hearing aid company "swag" bag with me to the store. It's a fine balance between enough and too many plastic bags in our house.

I'm just pointing out what I perceive as an absurd, and therefore entertaining or deeply depressing(your choice), situation.

On a lighter note: also at the grocery store today I saw a woman probably in her mid 70s wearing a black t-shirt with very simple lettering on the front that said:

"I got my people"

and on the back it said:

"and my people got my back."

I have no idea what it was referencing and I was about to ask but decided against it. More fun just to think she's a wicked cool granny with a weird sense of humor. And honestly, I can't even tell you what I thought was so funny about it. Incongruity, I suppose.

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