Oh Gaud

20 07 2007

Bag

By Jill Ettinger

Growing up in a family of four children, we generated a lot of trash. Drink boxes, cereal boxes, cans of soup and raviolis, egg cartons, milk gallons – and that was just kitchen trash. There were also old shoestrings, broken toys, empty shampoo bottles and dust-filled vacuum bags. It was a sight indeed. Garbage went outside every night, if not before. What can a family do? Unless you are living on a farm, eating fresh every night, avoiding the cumbersome grocery store excess and playing shoeless with rocks and dirt outside, there is going to be waste.

We face issues with landfills around the world. Piles and piles of homeless trash need to slim up in order for us to have room for the piles and piles of people we keep making. Energy conservation and a conscious relationship with our purchasing choices becoming the battle cry of folks like Al Gore. And rightfully so. It’s easy to find ways to reuse things with little thought. I stopped buying drinking glasses years ago, for example. I still use mugs with handles for hot stuff, but all else goes into an empty jar. I don’t put  produce into a plastic bag at the store, and am often amazed at people buying something already in a ‘wrapper,’ like a grapefruit or an avocado, and then placing it into yet another plastic bag before checking out at the counter.

San Francisco recently issued a ban on using city funds to purchase water bottles, as the number of bottles in landfills in California is over a billion annually. Cities like Minneapolis, Salt Lake and even ol’ Gotham are looking to adopt this rule as well. Score one for forward-thinking politicians. It’s all about the steps and stages of progress, like the good old fashioned tote bag. They’ve been a staple in co-ops and neighborhood health food stores since they opened doors; and dare a tie-dyed-birkenstock-wearing customer shop without it.

As the business of organic environmentally friendly choices has hit Wall Street, so grows the abundance of Whole Foods plastic bags. I’m amazed at how many I see in a day, versus a D’Agostino’s or Gristedes. They’ve become the Louis Vuitton of plastic grocery bags. But that is until these hideous Anya Hindmarch “I am not a plastic bag” bags arrived.  Please. Whole Foods sold 20,000 of them like they were Pope tickets. The other night I was standing next to a woman clutching it like it was worth the $1500 that Hindmarch handbags are famous for. I’m all for reusable, but this is just horribly ridiculous.

Why not consider reusing the Whole Foods plastic bags? As I’ve cut down on my waste output, I find one of those bags will last me at least a weeks worth of trash! As a result I’m not buying many giant plastic “garbage bags” and the boxes they come in. I still use canvas totes too, but wait in line to buy one? Maybe if this one read: “I am not an identity statement written on a bag.” And even then, probably not.

So yeah yeah yeah, green is the new black or whatever. It’s great that America is getting conscious about getting conscious, but are we really get ting it? Or will this important movement just be victim to our trend-minute attention span? (Oh and by the way, now that 3rd ave is shut down due to the explosion, I hear you can catch a red-flyer wagon ride up 2nd. It’s free, but you’re supposed to make a donation to the kids pulling them. They were flown in just to do this from Chile. They’re raising money to buy Ralph Lauren farming gloves – organic cotton of course.)

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