When environmentally friendly alternative bags were first introduced, I thought they were a great idea. They were sturdy, re-useable, had a rectangular base so it was easy to pack goods into them, and they held so much more than a plastic bag.
But now, after years of using these green bags, I begin to see the problems. Maybe all you Eastern states had the right idea after all?
a) They hold so much more than plastic bags, which makes them much heavier, something you don't really notice at first.
b) Because they hold so much, less bags need to be used. "Pack them as full as you can", says the customer, "I don't mind, the car is close by". Huh, I mind, especially at the end of a long shift...
c) People got so used to throwing away plastic bags, they now don't stop to consider that these alternatives need to be kept clean. Some of the bags we are presented with are quite grubby, some are smelly from leaked meat juices or milk, a couple of times I've handed back really dirty ones and said I couldn't possibly pack groceries into them. Some of the things found in these bags include spider webs, spiders, broken glass, rotting vegetation, usually old lettuce leaves; many bags are covered in animal hairs. Please people, clean your bags. Quite a few reek of cigarette smoke.
Most bags are clean however, and don't present a problem.
d) The variety and size of the bags people bring in can be challenging, I've had bags ranging from handbag size to the giant department store ones usually used to carry home new bedding. Hard to fit those onto the packing rack....
Some are very colourful, bought in many tourist locations all over the world, these are great conversation starters and we hear great holiday stories.
Some are clearly lovingly homemade, even quilted and very pretty.
e) Lots of people still forget to bring their bags with them when they shop.
"They're in the car".
"They're in the other car".
"They're at home".
"I only came in for one thing, didn't think I'd need a bag". This from a customer with a loaded trolley.
We have plastic re-useable bags available at 15 cents each, so they buy these instead. (But they don't re-use them.)
Properly kept; clean and non-crumpled, these bags are an acceptable alternative, but I do wish more customers would realise that over the course of a day, even on a short shift such as I do, we lift many, many bags; it would help us checkout operators greatly if you all had enough bags so that we didn't have to fill them so heavily.
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