Tales of the Re-usable Bag

I’m sickened by the guise of the re-usable bag.

That’s not to say that it wasn’t a good idea, at least initially. But by now, almost every store and organization has created their own version of a re-usable bag, because no one wants to lose that small, yet vital area of branding real-estate. To me, every re-usable bag I see displayed at just about every cash register, emphasizes why we’re in an environmental sinkhole. Worse yet, more of these ubiquitous bags will continue to be created so retailers can market themselves as “green,” when really—let’s face it—rabid consumerism and sustainability don’t play well together.

A lot of the re-usable bags are nylon. NYLON. That’s as good as carrying around a dozen plastic bags. Sure, the nylon bag is re-used, but for how long? It’s going to end up at the landfill inevitably and take eons to break down, if ever. There are pros and cons for each type of material used for re-usable bags. Cotton takes a lot of water to grow, etc. etc. The lack of clear-cut solutions is yet another reason why we’re in the mess we’re in. Regardless, it doesn’t take an environmental engineer to figure out that the proliferation of the “re-usable” bag isn’t good.

I just counted the number of re-usable bags I own: five. I devotedly use two, keeping them in my purse. I also use a large one to store all my other little bags, change purses, and the like. So, essentially, I already have two garbage-ready re-usable bags, but I can’t bear to submit them to that fate. Certainly they’ll come in useful at some point. Now I make sure to refuse re-usable bags that are pushed on me.

I was incredulous to the re-usable-bag pushing I witnessed on Bike-to-Work Day, a couple of weeks ago. There I was pedalling along my usual bike lane when I saw big, colourful chalk arrows drawn ahead, trying to rope me into one of the event’s stations. It was at a red light; I stopped anyway. I was mildly curious as to why they had wanted me to stop. In a blink, I learned it was so a volunteer could try to give me a—you know what’s coming—Bike-to-Work Day re-usable bag. Groan. “No, thanks.”

That whole exchange struck me as inordinately wrong. Although I bike anyway, I didn’t need a reward on that particular day. I dislike our culture’s mentality that because you give, you should also get. Here were all these people biking, trying not to use a resource, when other resources had been used to create these rather ugly bags. And really, how MANY re-usable bags does one human being need?!

The company/event swag t-shirt has been lapped by the re-usable bag. It’s a great idea that’s quickly becoming insidious.


About gwenamon

bookworm, confidante, creative director, cyclist, global wanderer, music lover, shutterbug, shoe shopper, snowboarder, writer, yoga geek. i'm also a very proud mama of a lil mister named james.
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