Bring Your Own Bag(gage)

BF bag

Most everyone carries a reusable bag with them nowadays. Besides the wonderful Better Farm tote bag seen above, I own a plethora of bags that can even be tucked into my purse – ready for action at any moment. Just such a circumstance came up at Duane Reade the other day as I stopped for some supplies, with unpleasant results:

Dbag employee: Ringing up items…
Me: Take my bag out and set it on the counter in front of Dbag employee as I pay the bill.

Then, nothing. We both just stare at each other over the pile of items on the counter. He is obviously not planning on doing anything else.

Me: What? If I bring my own bag  that means you don’t bag it for me?
Dbag: I thought you were gonna do it.
Me: I don’t work here.

A little harsh, maybe, but I had a point to make. And the more I think about it, it’s a recurring theme. Usually when I’ve slapped those canvas totes on the conveyor belt at the supermarket they’ve already moved on to the next customer. I don’t mind helping if there’s a lot to bag, but I’m not being paid by their company as a bagger. Is there some unwritten (or even written) employee conduct code that states if a customer isn’t interested in using their wasteful plastic bags that all of a sudden service is suspended? Does anyone else notice this or am I becoming the Gloria Steinem of shopping receptacles?





3 thoughts on “Bring Your Own Bag(gage)

  1. hey
    my experience is that in chain stores (ie duane reade & such) the eco awareness is a bit lacking by both the people frequenting them as well as the people employed there. no offense but i think you are expecting a lot. use it as a teachable moment, not in a condescending way but in a permaculture way… each action you take from this place is openly imprinting others. give people in their hesitation the benefit of the doubt… maybe they just simply don’t know what to do since it is not in the playbook? especially in such a repetitive motion job. you are introducing a variable, so lead with a smile. and by the way out here in bushwick some places aren’t paying their baggers at all actually, totally illegal but they work for tips.

  2. Hi great blog and ideas! Yes, the bag problem is very bad. It was hellish in Tokyo, Japan as they bagged and double bagged everything (like milk cartons so they wouldn’t leak!) in plastic. Now I’ve returned to NYC I remember this place has a problem with plastic bags too! The supermarkets double bag everything in case the thin first bag breaks and whenever I get my own bag out, they ignore the fact that they should pack it. I feel obliged to do it. Crazy!! If you’re not careful you can return home each day with at least five of these polluting plastic bags!! Maybe they should look to the West Coast where San Francisco (or other cities on the East coast) have been debating “Ban the platic bag” for a long while. Look what plastic is doing to our oceans!! NYC should be an example to the world!

  3. Hi – thanks for commenting! I also don’t quite understand why NYC is so far behind on basic environmentally-positive actions. I did a similar post a while back on the garbage problem in the city:

    Even with trying to use cloth bags for shopping, I still seem to end up with an abundance of plastic bags at home. Some I reuse as garbage bags, but most I just return to stores that collect extra plastic bags. I know there are a number of products out there made from excess plastic bags, so I should really start looking into that as well…

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