Saturday, April 07, 2007

Open Letter to a Local Grocery Store,

For the past two years since I have lived in this community, I have faithfully shopped at your store. I have not been one of the many residents that take ferry rides over to the city to stock up on goods, because I think it is important to support our local merchants. But to be very honest, you are seriously pissing me off.

The other day a large display of reusable canvas grocery bags caught my eye. They are well made, besides just looking nice and I was surprised that you would offer such a nice looking bag for a low $.99 each. I snapped up many of them, excited to be done with plastic bags altogether. The slogan "Something MUST be done" gave me the sense that you are also concerned about the global climate change that we are faced with. That the polar bears in the northern reaches of our country are starving to death since the polar ice is melting, we are experiencing bigger and nastier storms then ever before, and that our world's outlook is pretty bleak. I don't consider myself an environmentalist, but the weather this winter conveyed a message that made us wake up.

However, since I've purchased those lovely bags, your staff haven't made it either easy or even desirable to use them.

I should have guessed that firstly I'd have to wave the bags and get their attention, considering that they aren't used to someone showing up with canvas bags for their groceries. However, packing two small items in each bag and everything else in plastic completely defeats the purpose of the bags to begin with. I'm not quite sure why your staff feels the need to pack only two or three items per bag; maybe they think that we consumers gleefully collect plastic bags and enjoy carrying immense amounts of them. Regardless, I end up with just as many plastic bags whether I bring the canvas ones or not. So, let me ask you this: What is the POINT?

When I have finally insisted that more items be placed in the bags, your staff have kindly done so; although the items are thrown rather haphazardly in the bags with no regard for their condition by the time I get home. Produce is squished and ruined, honey and yogurt containers upside down and sideways threatening to burst or break, and no thought given to how a bag of any kind should be packed. My child could have done a better job when he was 5.

So with this experience fresh in my mind, I've begun to wonder if the selling of the bags in the first place was just another money grabbing scheme; preying on those of us who really want to do right by our children and fix, or at least halt, the damage done to our planet. Maybe the whole reduce, reuse, recycling movement has become trendy and just another marketing buzzword for companies to procure our hard working dollars, with no real interest in the real issues at hand. A bit of "just throw some reusable bags at them to make it look like we care."

Yes, as your slogan so gleefully pointed out, something MUST be done. You offered the bags, we purchased them. Now it is up to you to stand behind your rhetoric and prove that you really believe all those words like "responsibility" printed on them. Show us that you mean it. To you, they might just be plastic bags. To my child, it's his future.

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