I love the earth. I recycle. I do whatever I reasonably can to do what is good for the environment. But what is good for the earth is not always good for me.
Twice in recent weeks, I have been in line at the store and already had some of my items unloaded before I realized that the person ahead of me was using their own grocery bags. That’s what is being pushed these days – don’t use plastic bags and you will save the environment. In some places they have been banned. I considered using my own bags, but I would constantly have to wash them, which would consume a lot of resources, so I don’t see how the earth would win. I certainly would not with the loss of time and money. But back to the people ahead of me in line. When I saw their bags spread out over the counter, all I could see was the filth of their home floors, home counters, or perhaps the ground outside their cars at home or the parking lot. Maybe their dog or cat brushed up against the bags. There is no end to the ways those bags could have become contaminated. Then the store clerk took my items and placed them right where the dirty bags had been. That meant that everything I took home received a wipe-down, and I still felt that they were unclean.
What happened this week was even worse. I noticed that the people ahead of me placed the numerous small items they had into the child seat portion of the cart. This part is always especially unclean to me because soiled, little bottoms could have been sitting there, and I reserve that spot for my purse. As many readers will know, I do not attempt to keep the outside of my purse sanitized because it frequently has to be placed on floors or other contaminated places. I am in this particular store every week, so as far as I am concerned, if dirty diapers haven’t contaminated this part of the cart, my own purse has.
It came back to bite me. I knew that I did not want my items to be on the same part of the conveyor belt as their items. I quickly moved my groceries right up behind theirs so that the belt would not make a loop and I would end up with the same portion of the belt. Haha! I outwitted the conveyor belt, so I thought. Then came the real trouble. The people were having a problem with the card they scanned. They tried another card with no success. Great, a long wait. But no, they left quickly after that. I gladly would have endured a long wait rather than go through what was about to happen. The clerk took their items out of the two bags that they occupied, and shoved the groceries under the counter, and before I knew what was happening, she was scanning my items and placing them in the used bags. I wanted to walk away, but I didn’t.
I put on a fake smile, but my eyes were wide with horror. I was going to have to pay for these things, but what would I do with them? I was quite upset as I loaded these things into my car. I had to determine which bags were clean and which bags were dirty, and they had to be put in different spots. I wasn’t even sure what was in the dirty bags till I got home. I didn’t want to look in them. When I finally decided to look, one bag contained boxes of facial tissue and aluminum foil (which I gave away), and the other contained three large bottles of rubbing alcohol. I was able to salvage these by opening them with gloves and pouring them into other bottles.
Reusing those grocery bags was the environmentally sound thing to do from the clerk’s perspective, but it definitely was not a good thing for me. It cost me extra time and extra money and a good deal of distress. Let’s keep using clean, plastic bags, stop spreading germs, and keep our sanity.