Three years ago, I decided to switch to cloth grocery bags. I didn't know anyone else who used cloth bags and I suspected that the bagboy at my grocery store would throw a fit and refuse to bag my groceries, but I knew it was the right thing to do. And that I could easily bag my own groceries.
I dived right in, collecting a huge stash of bags for my bi-weekly trips to the grocery store, and besides a few rolled eyes from the cashiers, it's been a seamless transition.
Except for one thing...remembering to take my bags.
After a few months, I got pretty good at bringing my bags to the grocery store - after emptying out the groceries, I'd stick the bags back in the car, so they'd always be there for my next trip.
The problem was those quick in-and-out kind of shopping trips - like a quick run to the drugstore or a quick pitstop at the arts and craft store or a quick pop-in to the hardware store. I'd run into the store, grab what I needed, and swing out the door with plastic bag in hand before I'd realize, "Woops! I forgot my bag!" So I got a small wallet size bag to keep in my purse. Problem solved.
But then there was my husband, who is one of those really really smart, really really spacey kind of guys who definitely doesn't have room in his brain to remember to bring his own bag. I bought him a wallet size bag to keep in his backpack. Didn't help. I nagged a lot. Didn't help. Finally I gave it time...He seems to be coming around.
And then one morning after changing my two-year-old out of his nasty, stinky, disposable nighttime diaper and into a soft cotton Chinese pre-fold daytime diaper with lime green wrap, I went searching for a plastic bag to dispose of the smelly, um, disposable...and discovered that the plastic bag dispenser was empty.
It was a total Mother Hubbard experience, except with plastic bags instead of food.
My initial thought was to blame my husband. "Whad'you do with all the bags?" I called.
"I didn't touch them!" He shouted back.
Hmmm...I turned to the kids. "Did you guys take the plastic bags?"
Blank looks. "What bags?"
"The plastic bags. The grocery bags. The one's that go in here," I said, pointing to the dispenser.
The two little ones shook their heads, but the big guy nodded. "You used them all in my Halloween costume," he reminded me.
Oh yeah, he was a cowboy, and we used the bags to stuff the head of our homemade hobby horse. I shrugged, figuring it would only take a few weeks to restock our bag stash and that I could be creative in the meantime.
That was November, and now we've gone almost three months without plastic bags. I dispose of diapers in those little rain baggies the newspaper comes in. Sometimes I use a carrot bag or an apple bag. I stopped lining our bathroom bins completely and instead periodically empty them into the big trashcan. Occasionally, my husband still brings home a plastic bag, but now he's progressed far enough to notice his mistake and apologize for it.
Which makes me smile.
Life is possible without plastic bags. In fact, I barely notice the difference...
A few weeks after we ran out of plastic bags, I reached for a paper towel and discovered that the paper towel dispenser was empty. My initial thought: "Hmmm...I wonder how long we can go without paper towels?"
As a final thought, I wanted to thank all of you for your amazing response to my questions last week. There are so many helpful comments there, and if you haven't read them, you should pop on over and check them out. I, for one, need to go back through and take notes on the snack and lunch ideas.