I recently posted this on Keen for Green, but thought I would share it with any readers on here as well!
Posted Nov 30, 2010 by Lisa Seyfried on Keen for Green:
As I’ve been doing my Christmas shopping this year, running from store to store looking for the perfect gift for people (yes I know it’s early — I like doing it early so I have time to change my mind!), I’ve been thinking about reusable bags. When home in DC, I swear by them and take them everywhere with me. Doing Black Friday shopping in my small hometown in Pennsylvania, the thought never crossed my mind.
So this got me thinking: are reusable bags more than just a simple way to ‘go green’? Have they morphed into some kind of urban elitist thing or a status symbol of some kind?
When I walk down the street carrying my reusable canvas bags, I’ll admit it — I judge people a little for not having them. I think to myself ‘How can these people not get how simple and easy this is? They must not care about the environment likeI do!’ simultaneously making myself feel superior and like a horrible judgmental person. But I think this is the wall that reusable bags have hit. Rather than being ways to make it easy for everyone to go green, it seems like it’s almost more of a measurement of how much greener I am than you.
Which I think is interesting when I look at how the idea of bringing my own bags with me on Black Friday never occurred to me, nor did I see anyone else doing it. Had I been doing it here in the city, I would have seen many other people carrying their bags with them. Perhaps this is because of the five cent tax on any plastic bag. Or perhaps it is the fact that my neighborhood is full of ‘greens.’ Either way, I think there is something to be said for the fact that there is such a difference between a city and a small rural town.
I have to wonder if this is a trend like biking that just doesn’t quite transfer to a non-urban setting. Riding your bike back and forth to work when your commute is 20+ miles gets a little extreme. So maybe this trend of bringing your own bags is a sign that I am an over-educated hippie (and I use this term to describe anyone who wants to be a treehugger but do so with a roof over your head and a steady paycheck coming in – aka me.) who can remember to bring her own bags so that I can feel good about ‘doing my part.’ Maybe it’s a way for urban dwellers to show how much more they are doing to protect the environment that those crazy rural Americans. Or maybe it’s a status thing: I am educated enough to know that this can mean something.
Any way I look at it, I am beginning to think that there is much more to this reusable bag thing than meets the eye. Or maybe that’s my over-educated hippie talking.