October 29th, 2010

Friday’s Four Cents: Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag

I’ve been on a bit of an enviro-kick lately. It doesn’t stem from any grandiose delusion of changing the world and I certainly don’t wear the cause on my sleeve like those that can’t do a good deed for its own sake. In general, I’ve just tried to be a little less wasteful throughout my typical day.

To add perspective with a little confessional, in the past, if I had noticed a reading lamp still on in my bedroom, but I was just walking to check the mail- I let it burn. Heading to the corner store for smokes or dog food? Who cares if it’s just two blocks away- I’d drive. Make sure every single plastic bottle goes into the green bin? Please. I’ve been no saint, and although I won’t be as dramatic as to call myself a fully reformed sinner, I’m trying to get better. Since I took a more diligent gander at my own improvident behavior, there’s one practice (that’s extremely commonplace it seems) that just sticks in my craw.

Bagging. No, not some sick, summer camp game, but the actual practice of putting things in bags.

More specifically, what went down at Local Convenience Store “X”, on a specific day of reckoning this week, was just plain maniacal. I went in to buy a small box of garbage bags (they actually only had rolls of trash bags, encapsulated within plastic bags themselves, with the little twist-tie up top. This would prove a catalyst for my fury). When I got to the counter and handed over my money, without beseeching my permission, the man behind the counter bagged my bag of bags.

Grocery stores, convenience stores, department stores, fast food joints, paper or plastic – they all do it with reckless abandon. Now don’t get me wrong – I understand that you gotta do what you gotta do in line at Kroger or Randall’s or wherever you may browse for vittles. Those cutesy canvas “grocery bags” with a panda riding a butterfly on them aren’t exactly suited for Sam’s Club style bulk shopping either. In fact, my own sits at home, hung around a closet doorknob, a potential addition to a time capsule that will condescendingly tell the future “Hey, at least we tried not to fuck things up for you guys. Sorry ‘bout that.”

Anyway, after a slack-jawed moment spent pondering the way this transaction fit into karma and the overall balance of the universe, I debagged the bag of bags, gave a smile and a nod and left with my purchase. He could waste the plastic on someone else, but not this guy! I felt a sense of achievement as I crawled into my SUV and drove the three blocks home. Later, as I bagged the leaves in my backyard to add to the tire fire, I peered through the black smoke into the starless sky. Big victories come in small bags. Or better yet, no bag at all.

— Tea Jones

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