Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Bag discrimination?

I’ve been trying to bring my own bags every time I go to the grocery store lately. When I first decided to do this, I thought that I might cause some stress to the customers in line behind me, or the cashier who would be forced to turn off robot bagging autopilot. For the most part this has not been the case. People seem normal when I dump my pile of canvas and paper bags on the conveyor belt. There are a couple of things I’ve noticed, however.

1. The cashiers put MUCH more in each bag. There would be no way they would put as much as they do in a plastic bag. Sometimes they are impossible to carry.

2. When I have things like milk, I’m always asked if I want it in a bag. When I get plastic bags, they never ask me that question. They just automatically put it in a DOUBLE plastic bag.

3. They don’t carefully pack fragile items. I once found my eggs under several other things (two had broken of course).

4. In stores other than grocery stores, cashiers don’t seem to understand. They get confused. I sometimes have to remind them more than twice during the transaction that I don’t want them to put my things into one of their bags. Look, my bag is sitting right there. Just put it in there instead. Or I will. I don’t care. More than a couple of times they still put my things in a bag and then when I take it out to put it in mine, they throw their bag in the garbage!

So, what is your experience?


Anonymous guh! said...

My experience is similar to yours. At Meijers they always put ALL my groceries in one of my bags, where they would have used 8 or 9 plastic bags instead. (and I don't buy as many groceries as you do since I am only shopping for one!) It is the worst when I bring in my IKEA bag, since it is big enough to hold a cow. When I have that bag, they just leave it in my basket and load it there. The result is so heavy that I then need to empty my groceries into other bags at my car trunk before I can transfer them out of the cart.

At CVS I have never had any success with my cloth bags -- the best I can hope for it that they will put my purchases into their plastic bag and then put the whole thing into my cloth bag. I also give them back their plastic bag, but I've never stayed long enough to see what they do with it -- it is very disturbing to think that they probably just throw mine away, too.

With the chain stores I often get 'survey' numbers on the receipts, and I keep meaning to post a 'bag' comment by filling out the survey . . . but haven't yet. Even their promise of a chance to win $$ hasn't been enough to get me to remember to do it so far.

At the fruit market and the (now closed for the winter) farmers markets I have been much more successful because they generally 'get' the concept. Although one apple grower this fall insisted on wrapping his apples in a plastic bag before he let me put them into my empty cloth bag. But most of the farmers just dump their containers of whatever into my open bags. By next summer, if I find enough good remnants, I hope to have bags made for each type of produce I buy, so that I can keep them separated by type. I should lift weights over the winter so that I can carry them all, too. (I am already wishing I had bought more corn!)

The biggest downside of the cloth bag thing is that I no longer get enough paper bags to use for my paper recyclables. I am going to have to buy some twine.

1:38 PM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

At least you're remembering to bring your bags to the supermarket. I bought a couple bags from Trader Joe's for the same reason (so I can stop using bags paper or plastic) and I have yet to remember to bring them with me to the store. If you do remember to bring your Trader Joe's bag you can enter a drawing to try and win a bag full of groceries.

If only I could remember to bring the darn bag! *sigh*

5:43 PM  
Anonymous amy said...

ahh the comment about the IKEA bag being big enough to hold a cow made me laugh a LOT.

my cashiers always act really confused when i bring my big cloth bags in. to make it worse i have a cart because i walk to the grocery store. (i really like not having a car, actually, nice strong legs)

but. i go grocery shopping on thursday nights so there is usually no one behind me in line and i'm able to do as i wish with all of my food.

12:49 AM  
Anonymous Tina said...

You would fit right in in Germany ---> no one bags for you, if you don't have your own bag, you have to pay for plastic, just like at Aldi or IKEA. And yes, I love my giant Ikea bags too!
(I went to Ikea last Friday to return something, and didn't get there till 8:35. They close at 9, so can you imagine how stressful that was for me not being able to look around???)

3:28 PM  
Blogger TK said...

Don't get me started. I went to the grocery store the other day, without any bags, but I only bought a couple of things. I asked the bagger to put everything into one bag and to NOT double bag it. It was like he couldn't function if the bag had more than two things in it. He finally did it when I told him I wouldn't hold him responsible if the bag (of light things) broke.

8:59 PM  
Blogger Beck said...

I think the bag thing is because the plastic bags are viewed as being a store service and so they don't want to appear stingy. Or they might just be jerks. I'm not sure.
My experience is that I always forget my virtuous bags at home because I suck.

12:15 PM  
Blogger Marissa said...

I've only ever been to Ireland...but, they don't give you bags when you go to stores, you have to pay for them. So most people bring their own bags.

10:37 PM  
Anonymous becky said...

I cashier every now and then at Target--we're instructed to put chemicals, food, refrigerated food, and frozen food in separate bags, which makes me feel pretty foolish when there's just one of each! I've never had anyone come in with their own bags, though!

1:17 AM  
Blogger jennifer said...

Some comments on your comments:

Can you bring your Ikea bag to Ikea? Or do they think you are trying to buy one? I can't imagine briging my Ikea bag to a grocery store!

I remember to bring them because I try to leave them in my car now. It helps, but I don't always remember. It's getting better, and soon it will be part of leaving the house -- like my keys or money.

Of course it's different in other countries. I've hear that in England they've actually banned plastic bags. Stores can no longer give them. And if you have one in a store, it looks bad (like unfashionable, or cheap).

And, TARGET is the worst! That's when the cashiers look at me like I'm foreign. A bag? You have a bag? But I have bags. What do we do?

7:57 AM  
Anonymous guh! said...

Yes, you can take your IKEA bag to IKEA - they want you to! But I think it is actually easier to leave the bag in the trunk of my car and take the stuff out of IKEA in my shopping basket, then transfer it to the bag when I get to the car.

I went to Target last night and did an exchange, then made a few purchases. I used my own bag and both Target employees who waited on me responded by saying "wonderful, good for you." That was a first, and very nice!

10:18 AM  

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