I was in Home Depot over the weekend getting some stuff. I was in the molding aisle when I overheard some dude talking to a nice couple. We were all in the same boat…looking for molding. The dude and the couple were talking about recycled materials used in the molding…I think. Then, somehow they got onto the shopping bag issue. You know, the bags at grocery stores and Wal-Mart stores.
The lady mentioned something about how you can recycle your used bags at the grocery stores. This is something I learned only a few weeks ago. She also mentioned that the store will actually give you a credit if you bring your own bag(s). I thought that was pretty cool, but have never experienced it myself.
Then, the dude starts talking about how so many recycled products are more expensive than their non-recycled counterparts. He said that it boggled his mind why that is. He continued to ask why in the world he would pay more for a recycled product when he could get the non-recycled product for less. He again said that his mind was boggled. I was even confused. I, being the guy who just spent almost double the regular cost for paper towels and toilet paper (100% recycled), was eager to jump in. I wanted to tell the man that by purchasing the recycled products, he was doing something good for the bigger picture. But I didn’t. My urge faded away when I realized my words would be lost on him. He kind of stuck me as the type of guy who was set in his ways. Being the “tough talker” he was, I most likely would’ve come off as some liberal San Fransiscan. From my experience, many of these Home Depot shoppers I come across, don’t seem to have rational views on societal issues. I walked away thinking of how stupid he was.
By the time I got to the end of the aisle, I realize that he did have a point. Most people are heavily influenced by what’s in their wallets. If this recycled product thing is ever going to take off, the producers of these products have to stop punishing people for buying them. Isn’t it weird that so much stuff out there that is good for you and good for the planet costs twice as much as all the junk that isn’t? Things are a little backwards, in my opinion.
Anyway, Laura and I went shopping at the local expensive Hannaford that night. We brought two of our reusable tote bags with us. When I arrived at the checkout area and the nice lady noticed we had two of our own bags, she credited us five cents each. I know that isn’t much, but I thought it was pretty cool. The whole way home I kept on talking about how I was going to write about it.
When we arrived back at the house, I was still thinking. I mentioned how neat it was for stores to reward people for using their own shopping bags. Then, as I was entering the house, I remembered an article that I read the day before. It was about how, in Dublin, after a tax was introduced on plastic bags, their use dropped 94%. I began to think about the fact that I never once saw anyone else in Hannaford with their own reusable shopping bags. I am sure people use them, but I have never seen them. Strange. Perhaps rewarding people for using their own bags is good, but punishing them for not is better. After all, a 94% reduction is plastic bag use is something to write home about.