Thursday, 24 January 2008

I Am The P.T.A. Lady

Remember that old bat of a lady who dressed in bad, loud polyester and had no apparent kids yet was always crusading for something on behalf of kids or schools or something? I think I’ve become that lady.

My latest thing tilting at windmills episode revolves around the grocery store. I’ve always hated those stupid plastic bags that everyone puts all of their produce into. Get one baking potato, put it in a plastic bag. What’s up with that? Anyhow, when we were in Europe this summer, I was amazed by how people act in grocery stores (you should ALWAYS go to a grocery store whenever you visit a new country). They don’t use bags for ANYTHING. All of the stuff goes into the cart, then onto the checkout belt, then either into a reusable bag or into one of those wire carts with the wheels. Only things that are bought in bulk, like nuts or rice, go into a plastic bag. Where an American shopper would have maybe 10 plastic bags per $100 of groceries, these people would have 1 or 2. And you think about it, and it makes a huge difference when you consider that there are like 120 million grocery shopping trips made in the country per week. 8 fewer plastic bags per trip, at 1 gram per bag, is 1056 tons of plastic bags per week. 55000 tons of plastic bags per year. Not exactly ending our dependence on foreign oil or emptying the landfills, but a pretty good start for a change that’s essentially an un-noticeable inconvenience after a short time. Anyhow, when you bring a half dozen oranges to the check out belt in the grocery store without a plastic bag around them, you get looks like you’re a freaking kid toucher. Doesn’t make sense. By the way, I’ve forgotten to bring our reusable bags like the last four times, so I’m really in a glass house a little bit on this one.

The big problem with the absolute cessation of plastic bag use is dog poop. What are we going to do with all the dog poop if no plastic bags? Here you have one of the great all time compostable materials (or if you are my in-laws dog, delicious materials) being put into one of the world’s least compostable materials. But when you are walking the dog, you really like the plastic bag. Especially when senor doggie goes for round two and you only have one bag, so you have to do the on the fly diaper genie/balloon animal twist and flip to pick up round two. So the moral of the story is that someone has to come up with an essentially completely recyclable product that serves second duty (no pun intended) as a pooper scooper and keeps would be treehuggers from cowering at the arched eyebrows of the grocery checkout people of the world.

I also rode my bike yesterday, including a half hour of sub-threshold work. Some day, my sub threshold will be higher than my current threshold and I will think back and say “man, what a freaking sally I was.” The first time I tested my threshold, it was lower than the 30 minute interval I did yesterday. Man, what a freaking sally I was.

Maybe I will go have a bake sale to raise money for a good cause.


Jim said...

Some plastic bags are reasonably biodegradeable. Nother fun plastic bag point: they are often made from recycled material so the net environmental cost (production, disposal) of plastic bags is typically lower than paper. I'm with you on wanting to do away with them, the Euros have in part because the stores charged money for the bags for a long time. Not a lot of money but it adds up. And let me tell you, you want to see some promiscuous bag usage, check out a 17 year-old German grocery clerk. They'll individually wrap your damn Altoids, if they can get away with it. Wegmans is coming to town with nice 50 cent cloth bags that hold their form. Can't wait until Weggies opens in my neighborhood - 6-8 months I'm told.

On the other stuff... didja ever consider maybe your CP 20/30/60 test doesn't accurately reflect your real CP 20/30/60? Huh? 'Cuz where your threshold is varies, with sleep, diet, morale, etc.

Sorelegs said...

And about the dog poop. It is perfectly good organic compost. Put the material back into the ground and let it do some good. Bag it in a bag, throw it in the trash and it is aseptic and does not decompose. It just sits there and adds to the landfill mass. Hows' about when you walk your dog just carry a little trowel and flick the poop into a flower bed where no one is going to step in it. It is just dog poop not nuclear waste. Okay tempest in a tea pot but you started it.

Adam said...

Or you can use biodegradable poop bags. They'll cost you a little something at the petstores, but it solves the poopie plastic problem.

Chuck Wagon said...

See, this is all good stuff.

Jim - The place where I saw the most militant shunning of grocery bags was Vienna. For a bunch of sortakrauts, they have some hippie sensibilities. I actually felt like they were very much my people - robust, athletic alcoholic music lovers who know how to eat. And yeah, I suck at doing the tests. I've heard good things but never been to a Wegmans. You had them growing up though, right? A guy I used to work with is from Rochacha and freaking raves about the place.

Sorelegs - The hound in question (my in-laws dog - we will soon be moving to more dog friendly digs) is overjoyed to recycle in a more "closed system" sort of way. We try to discourage such things. I'm all over the trowel idea.

Adam - I just need to get out more. You have no idea how many "brilliant new ideas" I've had that are decades old.

Sorelegs said...

See, blogging works. We just sloved the worlds biggest problem. Done, done and done.
I think I'll go take a nap.

Jim said...

Wegmans is Safeway done right rammed into Dean & DiLuca, with a smattering of Trader Joes.

The only reason your friend raves about Weggies, is because actual swooning requires a loss of consciousness and he probably doesn't want to get a concussion just to be more accurate in describing a frickin' supermarket.

An amaaaaaazing supermarket.