Freedom Isn't Free, Nor Recyclable

I do the majority of my food shopping at smaller grocers around Philadelphia. This is mostly convenient because I work in town. Once every week or two I go to the Big Suburban Supermarket. It's nice. They have a great selection ranging from classic junk food you'd be much better off not eating, because it's made almost entirely of corn and poison; to affordable organics drenched in organic pesticides; to not-so affordable specialty goods which are essentially fat and nitrates with some herbs thrown in for giggles. The cheese and produce selection are great too, though not quite so great as the Reading Terminal or Italian Markets. I can't say I'm big on the Big Suburban Supermarket's bakery fresh bread, but I'm particular about bread.

At the Big Suburban Supermarket they have a drop-off bin for recycling your used plastic shopping bags. I don't think my local recycling pick up service deals in plastic shopping bags. It's uncommon for them to do that around here. So, I save up all my bags and bring them to the Big Suburban Supermarket to have them made into park benches and whatnot. Every time I do a drop off, I always have a lot of bags with me. It's shocking.

If the number of used plastic bags I generate every two weeks or so is at all in line with the national average, the human race is liable to suffocate in an ever rising sea of plastic shopping bags within the next fifty years. I'm not entirely sure this is an exaggeration. I think a good case can be made for the outlawing of plastic shopping bags on the grounds they're an environmental catastrophe unfolding in slow motion, but I'm not going to argue that case.

I would try to argue that case, but we live in a day and age where if a person were to so much as imply something should be mandatory, he would be met with an outcry of righteous indignation from all sides. Well, actually, one or two sides mostly. It's as if suffocating in plastic waste, drinking poisoned water, squandering your life savings on healthcare, and dodging bullets on the way to work are somehow proof positive you're truly free. I don't suppose for one moment I can change your mind on this matter.

Instead, I've started carrying around reusable nylon bags. I'm sure there's something horrible about reusable nylon bags. There's something horrible about everything. I'm not sure why that is, but you're incessant bickering has me convinced to take such notions as read while you're around. All the same, it is my naive hope that by using these reusable bags—which no doubt have a negative impact of some sort—I can more than offset the negative impacts of otherwise singlehandedly generating a small mountain of plastic shopping bags each year.

I must admit it does feel weird to use the reusable bags at times. It's almost embarrassing but not exactly. Sometimes these reusable bags may inconvenience the cashier and people in line behind me. It can take a little longer to bag my groceries because there is not a rig for holding the bags open like they have for the disposable ones. Then there's the matter of whose responsibility it is to bag the groceries when you bring your own bags: do I do it, because they're my bags, or should the cashier do it, because bagging groceries is part of being a cashier's job description? I'm making trouble for people and almost want to blush about it. It's a small bother for all of us; Such is the price of freedom.