Over the weekend, I received an email from the Seattle Green Bag Campaign bringing my attention back to Referendum 1 which (if passed) would “create the nation’s first fee on disposable shopping bags, eliminate a wasteful practice and create better environmental laws that also save local businesses money.” According to their research, every year Seattle residents use 360 million disposable bags, and nationwide, Americans use over 9 billion plastic bags a year. Crap.
I’ve lived in Seattle for almost three years and one of the ways I’ve adapted best to local “ways” is by practicing eco-enthusiasm for arming myself with multiple shopping bags (BYOB?)…or else I bear a heavy burden of guilt at times when I have forgotten (especially at PCC). Mind you, it is a rare occasion when I actually leave my office mid-day for a run to the market but that’s usually when I make too many lame excuses to the cashier. REALLY embarrassed when I don’t have my canvas bags on those trips and find myself apologizing for my lack of foresight. These sympathetic friends usually nod and smile. Oddly enough the sympathetic acknowledgment eases the guilt. Neurotic? You bet.
Another element of my appreciation for canvas bags is associated with a desire to express my individuality. I liken my current collection of bags to the book bag “fashion” of school teachers and graduate students, public radio listeners, and my mom… those who love reading so much they carry books, magazines, files, notebooks, and magazines while traveling about town. One never knows when the golden opportunity to read solo in public will arise! One must be prepared. I have observed this functional use of canvas tote bags throughout my life and it makes me smile. I view this new eco-trend as an extension the original aloof, devil may care COOLNESS. Simply put, I am a fan of the canvas tote bag for many occasions, and depending on the assemblage of bags I intentionally choose for each shopping trip, I think each bag says something about me to those I encounter at the check-out line. “Hey, this woman is prepared …preparedness is cool.”
My favorite bag is a thin, unbleached cotton number that a dear friend brought back as a gift from Terra Madre in Turin, 2008. In dark violet letters, it proclaims, “Io NON uso…borse di plastica.” Couldn’t say it better myself.