Tuesday, May 05, 2009

An age-old question

Paper or plastic?

The paper bag has made a comeback in the grocery store. For the last few weeks, Shaw's in Porter Square has been offering paper grocery bags as an alternative to plastic and it couldn't have come at a more perfect moment for me. I used to shop at Trader Joe's quite a bit, but haven't been going there much in the past year. Consequently, all the Trader Joe's paper bags that I'd amassed to use for my recycling got used up, and I've recently been trying to figure out how to get more bags without having to go all the way to Trader Joe's for them. Now, Shaw's has brought them to me.

Like the rest of the ecologically minded grocery shoppers in the country, I've adopted the "bring your own bag" ethos enthusiastically, and have stockpiled a supply of them which I keep in the trunk of my car. Inevitably though, I walk into the grocery store without noticing I've left them there until I'm at the register. Extremely frustrating, especially when the only alternative is to accept horrible, nasty plastic bags. So when this happened a couple of weeks ago, and I spied a stack of paper bags quietly sitting where they used to in the old "paper or plastic" days, I was pretty ecstatic.

Shaw's has been absolutely silent public-relations-wise regarding this move, at least to my knowledge. It seems that they'd leverage the environmental advantages of the return to paper in their advertising, but they don't seem to have gone there yet. According to the information on the bags themselves, they are made of at least 40% post-consumer waste, and are "100% recyclable," not to mention biodegradable.

Just think what it would be like if America got rid of all the plastic grocery bags and returned to paper and reusable bags. No plastic bags tattered and flapping in the wind in the branches of the Catalpa tree, no poison plastic bag factories cranking out pollution, and the growth of that island of crap floating around the Pacific would slow exponentially. Heavenly.

Of course, I'm getting way ahead of myself. I'm sure the plastic bag industry will fight hard to survive; they've been enjoying some fat decades. At least choice is back. I'm just relieved that my recycling has a place to go again and that my imperfect memory won't result in plastic bag consumption, at least when I shop at Shaw's.

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Anonymous liryon said...

The Shaw's at Porter Square has been offering paper bags for at least 3 years. I suspect longer, but I can only vouch for the last 3 years. There are often stacks of them to one side of the bagging area, and there are more below the table top. They have been there all along and all you've ever had to do to get them is say "paper please."

12:39 PM  
Blogger Ron Newman said...

There have been paper bags at the Porter Square Shaw's for as long as I can remember, going back to when it was still Star Market.

8:11 AM  

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