My Plastic Bag Paradigm Shift

This week was a bit of a struggle for me in terms of the readings, especially at the beginning of the week; I did not seem to connect with them at all. The Titanistad article seemed to be too murky for me to truly absorb its message, and the Cartoonist/Futurist article was off-putting due to the obnoxiously narcissistic tone the author laced throughout the paragraphs. I felt frustrated that I wasn’t really getting how these could fit well into sustainability. However, that changed on Wednesday.

During Wednesday’s learning community/class exercise, the final/realism  step made an impact on me throughout the rest of that day. I was thinking about it after class and then throughout my other classes for the day. In my group we were discussing charging for plastic shopping bags, promoting and the idea of “BYOB” (bring your own bag), and even biodegradable bags. Before this class, I had realized every time I went to the checkout at Walmart, they always gave me so, so many bags. I appreciated the double bagging on some items, but when they stuck very few items in each plastic bag I felt extremely uncomfortable. That pent-up annoyance eventually caused me to only use self-checkout, and I was able to reduce my plastic-bag usage. Recently, though, I have taken it a step further and brought my own bags to shop for groceries. Thinking about it, especially from the group discussion in class, there could be a great market a company can tap into with reusable bags… Handbags are a major component of an outfit, so why can’t reusable bags become the same for grocery shopping? They’re easy enough to stick in your car’s trunk or behind your seats for quick access and don’t take up much space at all. Sturdy, compact, screenprinted, multiple interior pockets, studded, canvas, double-handled, oversized, denim, patterned, with a logo, embroidered…the list of options goes on & on. How cool is that? They, just like handbags, can be such an easy and obvious form of self expression. People (“futurists” included) could even generate designs, features, and ideas like our cartoonist article has done with inventions. In turn, individuals can be inspired from those and make these bags even better, and even more sustainable (maybe even biodegradable).

Then, it came to me- why stop at grocery shopping? Take it to Lowe’s when you run out to grab a screwdriver or lightbulbs. Stick a birthday gift or two in them and then your recipient gets another gift- double the fun! If more cities in America implement a charge or fee for plastic/paper shopping bags, or potentially even banning them in the future, then there is a huge market for these reusable bags. The companies that establish themselves early in this market can be very profitable, and consumers can feel better when they shop that they’re reducing their own carbon footprint- one shopping trip at a time.

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