Wednesday, March 28, 2007

San Francisco to ban convenience.

The plastic grocery sack (aka "t-shirt bag") is one of the most fantastically useful gizmos to have been invented by the human race. Thanks to the magic of its loopy handles, I can drape several over each wrist and schlep a week's worth of groceries up the stairs, yet still have a hand free to operate the knob at the top. But getting the groceries through the front door is only the start of their usefulness.

I have one of the bags hanging on the wall near the kitchen, stuffed full of other bags awaiting all their future tasks. For instance, I keep one by my computer desk to use as a receptacle for soft drink cans, kleenex, and suchlike. When it fills, I take it to the main trash receptacle and replace it with a fresh one. There's a double-bagged pair atop the fridge, serving as a cache for things I don't want to put in the regular trash can, lest they wind up serving as cat bait, such as empty chili cans and whatnot. They let me take books to work in the rain without fear of getting them wet, even bungeed on the back of a bike. They serve as containers for the contents of my coin jar on its monthly emptying. They make great impromptu rain hats. They're effectively free, disposable, fantastically wonderful little items; triumphs of human ingenuity. If they made better bookmarks and were edible, they'd be perfect.

For all these reasons and more, some folks just hate 'em. The hair shirt crowd, those who are convinced that anything fun or useful must be unhealthy or cause global warming, have now succeeded in getting them banned in San Francisco. Supposedly you can replace them with a canvas bag (and how often am I going to have that with me when I spontaneously decide to stop at the grocery store on the way home from work? And will it hold a week's worth of groceries?) or recyclable paper (everyone who's ever heard that sickening tearing sound followed by the clank and thud of beer and Ben & Jerry's hitting the linoleum, raise your hand).

If you're going to San Francisco, be sure to smuggle some plastic grocery sacks.

17 comments:

Conservative Scalawag said...

I haeard about this morning on the radio while driving in to work.

I am surprised it took this long for San Fran to ban this luxury.

B&N said...

You'd think the tofuista crowd would love these things, as most of them are made from recycled materials like milk jugs, almost exclusively.

Go figger.

BobG said...

Makes no sense; I use them for countless tasks. I always have a couple folded up small when I go out anywhere away from town; you never know when you might have to pick up some brass, or police an area where you are camping/picnicking.

Anonymous said...

mind you, i wouldn't much care if they required plastic bags to be the thicker HDPE type instead of the tissue-thin LDPE ones that likely cost a fraction of a cent less, each.

the thicker kind last much longer and hold much more weight, but the only place i know of to get 'em is my local community college bookstore. i treasure every one until it finally wears out, usually long after dozens of (newer!) thin grocery-type bags have gone to the trash.

TD said...

As the owner of a big dog, I buy those things by the case and always have a couple in my pockets. Try using a canvas bag for THAT.

B&N said...

Good point, td. I have two monsters and they do create a lot of, er.. waste. Those bags are perfect for that occasion.

Anonymous said...

Gee, I live in a rural area where facilities for collection of recyclables are virtually non-existant. As a matter of fact, the only ones I know about are the bins for recycling these bags at my local supermarket and Walmart. They are the only items I currently recycle.

JeanC said...

While I do have a couple cloth bags I take to the store when I remember to put them in the car, I usually take my groceries home in plastic as I get lots of re-use out of them once I get home.

One thing I find them very handy for at home is the kitty boxes. We have a Litter Maid and the containers are expensive and I am very frugal so I wrap them in a plastic grocery bag I can get several months use out of one container until it finally falls apart.

When I have more then I can use at home, I bundle them up and bring them to work so we can put checked out books into if the students haven't anything to put them in on rainy days or if their backpacks are too full.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...

I too, use these bags to line several small trashcans at home, and the ones that I do not use I bring into work for an Admin. Assistant who uses them to dispose of the contents of her cats' litter boxes. But hey, guys, just think: if we banned these things, we would just have to buy the pre-packaged Hefty version, thereby having no net impact on the environment, but making life more expensive and (as Tam said) less convenient for us all!! Er, wait...

Joe M.

tkdkerry said...

If you're going to San Francisco...

OK, tell us again just why we would want to go to San Francisco?

Anonymous said...

Working for an oil company you pick up little tidbits of information. For example it is well understood that when you factor in the full cycle costs of energy to make a paper sack over a plastic one, the paper one costs far more energy/oil.

Thus the harder the greenies try to save the environment the more oil they use. Oh well more donations to OPEC in the name of the environment and ghia.

global village idiot said...

Not surprised by this in the slightest; I've been to San Francisco once, and learned my lesson--never again. Places like that remind me just how proud I am to be a Hoosier.

The only thing that surprises me is that they beat Berkeley to it.

Gunslingergirl said...

I love these bags. Can't understand why anyone would want to ban them. I use them for many things. Plus, they do make the groceries easier to carry.

You'd think people would have more important things to worry about.

staghounds said...

Plastic grocery sacks, usually black, are called "the naional bird" in Jordan, because of how often they are seen flying around on the wind.

DirtCrashr said...

San Francisco will do anything for attention. The bio-degradable type plastic bags will remain available. Personally I hate 'em and use paper all the time - they slide around and dump their contents unless you tie the top loops in a knot.

Anonymous said...

Recycle them? Hell, just burn your extras. :)

Alcibiades said...

Well, there is the Exploratorium in San Francisco. That's always a nice place to go.