Not all bags created equal

The new plastic grocery bag ban has the town scrambling to get up to speed. Apparently there’s a whole lot of difference in your average or not-so-average bag that most of us never bothered with.
Let’s take the cotton-recycled bags we’ve already been using when we manage to remember to get them inside the store with us. You know, the kind given away by Homer Electric , the Rotary Health Fair and other popular events. Grocery clerks say they like these bags. That’s because they sit in the sack area when clerks are ringing up the groceries, and they don’t topple over. They sack right. Not too inconveniently, which can hold up an impatient grocery line.
Now, what’s going to happen here when the grocery stores run out of their plastic bag supply? No one is really sure how long that will take, but the day will come eventually. So you’re standing in line with your eggs and milk, a couple of rolls of tinfoil. Are our stores going to let us leave bagless?
Nope. There’s alternatives. Safeway has a thick reusable plastic bag – heavier in weight than the culprit ones we’ve used for these past two decades. They’ll charge 15 cents for this one, and next time you come to the store, it can be used again and again. In theory.
But clerks don’t like this bag as much. It doesn’t sit straight for sacking. A bigger bag with handy handles, its mouth isn’t going to open as wide as the other bags. See how the eggs are in danger by the milk inside this container?
Wait. There’s more bag types to try out.
Each of the local stores sells a sturdier bag for $1, or so, that has an agreeable shape and opening. Some are lined to save your ice cream on its route home. The handles are big enough that your fingers don’t get pinched like the bad plastic bags caused when you try to haul out too many at once. These come short or tall and fill the bill on wideness.
Worried about germs from spilled meat juice and other fluids? Try washing one of the recycled bags in a sink full of hot soapy water. But be forewarned: Do not put them in the washing machine. They can’t stand up to it.
There’s even more bag details emerging these days, some of which may be too numerous to fit here: When you go to Ulmers, bring a bag with you there, too. Any of your favorite stores, Radio Shack, Spenard Builders, the Salvation Army, the Pick n Pay, even the Homer Public Library. It won’t hurt to be in the habit of the handy sacks. The old way of donating plastic sacks around town is supposed to dry up and blow away – not the sacks, but the habit.
The science of bags isn’t a detail most of us have heretofore concerned ourselves with. Who knew there could be so many variables? You have a cloth bag for the library, a couple of sturdy “sack” like bags for the grocery store, maybe something big and heavy made of canvas for the hardware purchases.
People around town are experimenting at the sewing machine. What’s it take to build a reliable bag that can rise to any task? What design tricks are called for? What’s it take to keep the grocery store clerks from feeling frustrated as they maneuver objects into squeezy, inadequate bags? And what about the guy behind you, shaking his head and rolling his eyes at your faulty choice of a sack that doesn’t sack right?
Oh, so much to learn. And so many bags.

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Posted by on Jan 9th, 2013 and filed under Editorial. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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