The Battle of the Bags

imageMy devotion to the 3Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle was influenced by a television commercial I saw as a child. It began with a moving picture of a Native American man canoeing down a river. On his journey he encountered pollution. It ended with a tear on his face and the message: “People start pollution, people can stop it.” I do what I can to save the earth. My trunk full of reusable bags so that I never have to use plastic ones is a huge “can do” for me. (Pictured here with one of my favorite bags featuring a Nancy Drew book cover)

The battle of the bags always surprises me! I come to the battle armed with my smile and my reusable bags. I announce, in a nice way, that I don’t want any plastic, but more often than not I have to plead with clerks not to use them. “Are you sure?” I am often asked, as a clerk tries to put something in plastic, and I have to convince them! Most of the time, the victory is mine, but every once in a while….well, let me take you to less than a week before Earth Day 2016…when this happened to me!

I ran into a store to buy sunglasses. I picked up a few additional  things and everything except one item fit nicely in the reusable bag that I had with me. At the check out counter I unloaded the contents of my bag and handed it to the cashier.
“Hi!” I greeted her with a smile, “I don’t want any plastic bags. Could you please put my items in this?”
“Certainly,” she answered. She began to scan my items and put them into my bag.
So far, so good. I glanced quickly at the displays over the counter and remembered I was out of chewing gum. I chose my favorite flavor and added it to my pile of purchases. It wasn’t long before the cashier scanned my last item: a bottle of bleach, the kind with a built in handle. Deftly she moved my reusable bag aside to set the bleach in a plastic bag.
“Oh, no thank you!” I said. “I really don’t want the plastic bag!”
“But it’s bleach!” she replied.
“It’s all right,” I assured her, “I’ll carry it separately, by the handle.”
When she removed the bleach from the bag, I felt elated! I had won!

I enjoyed that feeling until I unpacked my purchases at home. Inside my reusable bag I discovered…a plastic one! The clerk had wrapped my sunglasses in a plastic bag before throwing them in with the other items. It must have happened while I was distracted by the gum! Somewhere a Native American cries. Next time I’ll be more vigilant.

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