Community Columns

Reusable 'green' shopping bags a laugh and a trend?

The checker just laughed.

Then she said to the bagger, "Wouldn't it be funny if everyone used one of these?"

I hope the answer to that question is "Yes!" We can all use a little more laughter in our lives.

And most of us will be just as well off with fewer plastic grocery bags. I'm beginning to appreciate that already.

My wife bought a pair of reusable "green" tote bags at Costco a few of weeks ago. They are very large, of course. One was all I needed to carry 30 pounds of smaller items from the car to the kitchen.

Then I paid a dollar for a generic bag at our local grocery store. It's green, very green. And that made me feel a little self-conscious at first.

After unloading it at home, I remembered to put it back in my car for the next time.

But the next time, I didn't remember until I got to the checkout counter. And since I didn't want to make a scene by running back out to the car, I brought home five new plastic bags (two doubles and one single). Everything in those bags would have fit easily into one reusable bag.

So today at the grocery store, the checker asked, "Do you want everything in that bag?"

"Yes," I said. "You can do it."

She called in reinforcements and together they did it, with room to spare.

It is going to take some getting used to, both for shoppers and for baggers. And there are bound to be a few silly laughs. But I think this might catch on.

I know it is easier for me than for many because I often shop locally and for small amounts. I usually use a basket and not a cart. You can't fill a basket with more groceries than will fit into your new tote bag.

What about bigger shopping trips? When I need to buy a cartful of groceries, I could buy three more green bags. It will be easier to carry four reusable bags than a dozen plastic ones. Probably, though, I'll take the two Costco bags. It should all fit.

So what about green bag etiquette? Is it OK to take one store's bag into another store? Would the people at Lowe's happily fill up a bright-orange green bag?

I think I'll go generic for now and avoid that issue.

And if I ever find that I need a plastic grocery bag, I can simply forget to bring my green bag into the store with me.

Then wouldn't it be funny if everyone used reusable bags, and no one had any plastic bags to pack my groceries in?

Hollingsworth is a pastor and a poet who lives in Gustine. E-mail him at