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Other Voices: Bag of tricks to remember rules of BYOB

So, how’s that plastic grocery bag recycling program working out for you? That’s what I thought …

Let me begin by saying I am a recycler’s recycler. I’ve got my act together. I’m dedicated, steely-eyed, rough ‘n’ ready, well equipped, positive, a lights-on, heads-up, fully involved, geared up, forward thinking, totally got-it-together salvager.

I’m not only involved with bring your own bags (BYOB, remember that one?) to the grocery store, but thoroughly synchronized with the neighborhood curbside program too. I’m a opening windows, closing doors, turn on the fans, adjusting thermostats, reuse, reduce, recycle kind of guy. So, what’s the problem?



The problem with the store bought BYOB is that I keep forgetting to bring them with me. If I do happen to remember, it’s after I’m already inside the store. So, now what? Do I park the shopping cart and hope it’s still there when I get back from getting the bags out of the car? Or do you do what I’ve done so many times? You got it, buy more store bags! Now I have store bought bags piling up everywhere. I’ve tried everything to help me remember.

I’ve placed my BYOB in conspicuous places so I wouldn’t forget them. I’ve got them stacked on the table next to the door leading to the garage. They’re in my car’s trunk, the back seat, even the front seat. I write myself notes. I write them on top of my shopping lists, I’ve got them on the refrigerator. I even put sticky-notes on the dash, but no good. I thought about tying them around my waist, but they don’t exactly come in designer designs, if you catch my drift. I still end up in the aisles, bag less, and it’s starting to hurt.




When I do remember to bring the bags, I always seem to have the ones that don’t match the store I’m in. In other words, if I bring in store X’s bags to store Y, is that a big deal I wondered, what will the check-out clerk think when I use some other store’s logo festooned bags? “Oh, I see you’ve been shopping across town, and now you want to use their bags to cart out our groceries?” “Oh how embarrassing,” I thought. You might think no big deal correct?

Consider this, if you bring some of Raley’s bags to Safeway, so what, right? But what if you bring in Trader Joe bags into the BriarPatch? That might be a bit much. So, what to do? You quickly hide TJ’s and buy Briar Patch bags of course.

The inventory of my BYOB is increasing exponentially and, along with National Geographic magazines, will soon displace everyone on Earth. Forget global warming, my bags are becoming an environmental hazard all by themselves. I know, I know, all I have to do is recycle my own plastic bags, right? Well, that can be an experiment in terror.

Because the bags are so light, to get them where you want them is like herding cats. My best remedy so far is to stuff them into bigger plastic bags. I’ve got it down now that I can stuff 1,247 plastic bags into one empty Penney’s king-size pillow bag. When it will absolutely, positively, no longer take any more, I do what I call the Big Guy Body-Slam Compaction routine.

This is done by carefully shoving, then quickly body pressing the sack full of bags against a sturdy surface while also letting all the trapped air to escape. Whoosh! I’ve found the kitchen counter works best. When the bag o’ bags gets reduced to its smallest size, I quickly tie it off then toss the whole thing in the back seat of the car. So far so good, but then you have to find a receptacle at the grocery store that’s not overflowing with everybody else’s bags. Oh yeah, and you’ve got to remember the bag full of bags too. It not easy out there in recycle land.

I got to wondering how everyone else was doing. Not good. As far as I can tell, the BYOB graze is officially over in Northern California. The stores even give you cash when you bring your own bags, but the shoppers don’t seem to care anymore. They gave up. Why? Simple, we can’t remember the bags.

Dennis Babson, who even recycles the rubber band this paper comes in, resides with two cats who graciously allow he and his wife Carol to live with them in Grass Valley.


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