Really?!?! (My plastic bag rant)

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.”

Girl: “…”

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.”

Me: “grumble…grumble…grumble…”

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?

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  • Wow, I can’t believe you’ve been met with such hostility! While I’ve never had a cashier ask me if I had my own bags, I’ve never noticed that any of them really cared either. In fact, sometimes I just say, “I don’t need a bag” if it’s just a couple of items.

    But it took me months to get used to taking them to the grocery store! I do pretty well now, but I can’t seem to remember to bring them to go regular shopping.

  • X0hannahraex3

    I am an extremely environmentally conscious cashier in a supermarket and I take it to offense that you would jump to such conclusions and generalize about cashiers.

    Firstly, for example, I ask nearly all people with a reasonable amount of items to be carried without a bag whether they want a bag or not. Almost 100% of the time people want their one item in a bag (whether I ask or not). RIDICULOUSLY irritating when you see hundreds of customers a day waste many plastic bags. I have people come through my line with a $300 order asking for double plastic, extra light. Wasteful and ridiculous. 

    Also, there would be a much more effective way to tell the cashier your reasoning for using reusable bags and not wasting plastic bags. You should anticipate that the person won’t understand, because clearly most people are ignorant in regards to recycling and the wastefulness of plastic bags, and get into the habit of saying that you don’t like to waste bags. 

    Working as a cashier is not an easy job as most people are nasty and treat us like we do not matter. Have some consideration but do not hesitate to express why they should not waste. All the baggers in my store know how I feel about plastic bags and I have even converted several baggers to being much more conscious of the fact that they are wasting bags and they now make an effort to save. 

    Kind words go a long way.

  • Jack Bandalicious

    I’m a cashier. You talk about training like cashiers are brought through 8 weeks of training. I was put on my own and I started bagging. I saw how someone used reusable bags so I copied them (tying the handles on the carousel). It wont make a difference. Reusable bags take time. It’s your choice to use them.

    Flatout saying that you dont care about others is terrible. I’m a very sympathetic person. You could use reusable bags with the understanding that it takes more time but insist because you believe it helps the environment, but to say you don’t care that other people have to stay longer because of you using reusable bags sounds cruel.