Many moons ago I was shopping at TJ Maxx. I decided to buy my son 2 books and one article of clothing. I hadn’t planned on majorly shopping so I did not bring my reusable bags. I would place whatever I bought in my diaper bag and be on my way.
I got to the check out and as usual, Fletcher was being a pest. He was trying to touch buttons and so on. While the young teenager was checking me out I noticed she placed the book in a plastic bag. I quickly told her I didn’t need a bag I would use my own. “Ok” she said, and removed said book from the bag.
But wait. She took the “used” bag and balled it up, and was about to throw it in the trash! Really?!? Because that book soiled the plastic bag so much it couldn’t possibly be used again. Really?!?
Me: “Why are you throwing that bag away?”
Girl: “I dunno, it was used.”
Me: “For a half a second with a book in it. You don’t need to throw it away. You can use it for the next person.”
Me: “The whole point of me using reusable bags or not wanting a plastic bag is to avoid wasting bags. Throwing that bag out defeats the purpose. I hope you will think about that next time around.”
Girl: “Here is your receipt.”
I think I literally had steam coming out of my ears. To this girl I probably seemed like a nutcase. I doubt my rant had any effect on her other than making her uncomfortable. The people in line were most likely annoyed that I was holding them up. I am tired of being looked at like I have a third eye when I bring out my bags and insist on using them.
Usually the cashiers are annoyed because it takes longer for them (although I generally bag my own groceries and other purchases). They might be nervous because they were trained to bag in plastic and reusable bags hold more. The people in line give me dirty looks too, because they believe it will take longer. Sometimes it does. And frankly, it took some courage for me to start using them back in the day for those reasons. I hate being made to feel uncomfortable and I hate putting people out of their way. Eventually I decided I have to not care.
Even now, with more people using reusable bags, cashiers are not getting the memo. I shudder when I see someone reach for a plastic or shopping bag to put one item in. I bought a baby hat yesterday and the cashier went for a tiny shopping bag. I could have put this hat in my pocket it was so tiny! And when I said I didn’t need a bag she looked surprised!
Really?!?! I need a bag to carry an item that weighs less than the bag itself? Really?!?!
Maybe responsibility lies in the retailers hands. While many stores do sell their own bags, they don’t push them. They are happy to use those plastic ones. They don’t train cashiers to use anything other than plastic. Can’t they train these people to ask patrons if they want a bag? One item or fifty, “Will you be needing plastic bags or using your own?” Sometimes I flat out forget until after the items are bagged. I am either made to ask them to unbag them, or I remorsefully leave with a plastic bag.
So, how do you handle your reusable bag situation? Do you have to force people to use them? Is it normal where you live? Do cashiers ask if you are using them?