What happens when I forget or for some reason don't have my own reusable bags in the checkout? In the old days, say six months ago, I would come home with multiple disposable versions given to me by the clerk.
The Problem: Absent-Mindedness
Frequently I would realize as the groceries or clothes were being bagged, that I had forgotten my own bag, and think "Damn it! Next time," and "what is wrong with me, why is it so hard to remember a bag?" Of course, all that's wrong is that I haven't developed the habit of remembering or incorporating the mindfulness of bags well enough. With me and many others, it's a process that takes time; quite a long time if you never make it a priority.
Usually, I'd want to stop the clerk, but s/he'd be practically finished bagging before I even had the thought, and out of some misplaced politeness, I didn't want to insult her by undoing her labor. Back then, if I remembered quickly enough, I would ask the clerk not to bag if I didn't have many items, or just to bag the essentials (such as multiple smaller items, so my hands would be available to carry the bigger items sans bags). Much of the time I had my own bags waiting in the trunk of my car. So there were a number of times I actually left my purchases on the conveyor belt and ran out to my automobile to get them, but that often backfired as you can imagine, losing my place in line. I always thought I'd be super speedy and sometimes was, but other times, the clerk was faster. And I tired of that strategy.
And unbelievably, about a third of the time that I had forgotten my shopping bags, I actually had one *right* in my purse that I kept for just such occasions. Unfortunately, I used it so infrequently that I almost never remembered it was there, even moving around it in a pocket when looking for my wallet or keys, because the neatly folded and zipped bag had become a part of the purse and no longer an object within it, somehow. I know. Some of you can not understand or imagine such mindlessness. Neither can I at times.
The Solution: A Rule
Finally, I made a rule. Since I always remembered that I'd forgotten my bags at some point during the checkout process, and though that wasn't really good enough, it was enough to effect small--shall we call it, starter change. I incorporated some of my old tactics and thought of some new ones, and made a rule to apply one of the these every time. Here are seven alternatives to outright giving in to having a half-dozen double-bagged disposables being handed to you at the checkout.
7 Alternatives to Accepting Plastic Bags (use in conjunction where possible)
1 - Leave. If I remember before entering store, I may leave if I need to do a big shopping; or*
2 - No Bag. If I need just a few items that can be carried, I'll request no bag; &/or
3 - Skip some items. I may for-go all but a few items that can fit into my handbag; or
4 - Unbag. If bagging has begun, interrupt & ask for un-bagging, overcoming politeness; and
5 - Put some back. If in line with too many items to unbag, step out of line & put some back; or
6 - Use a cart as a carrier. Request to use the trolley or hand basket & just unpack it at car, or
7 - Do a Runner. last resort: run out to car & grab the often waiting reusables from trunk, even
if it means waiting in line again.
*I have at times considered leaving stores and returning, but there's the issue not only my time, but added energy consumption/pollution, as I usually drive to do my shopping (an issue to be tackled in its own post some time in the future). So if I leave a store, I generally don't leave with the intent of returning immediately, but rather of waiting until I can make the trip more cost-effective (in other words, when I need to make a run in that direction for additional purposes). Obviously, if certain items are urgent, then I will do the shopping at that time that is essential and carry those items.
And it's working! I mean, I still forget my own bags at times. But I remember a lot more often. And for now, while I'm cultivating the habit of remembering, I can deal with forgetting on occasion as long as I have fail safe measures to rely on.
So Jay, I forget, too, probably more often than you. Thanks for the comment that created the idea to make this post. Hopefully, it will help some other newbies one day.
postscript. (to be removed once the issue is resolved.)
To those of you who have written comments on any MWL posts, I apologize that I am still unfamiliar with blogger and seem to have difficulty with my responses reaching the commenters. Or perhaps that's a setting option for the commenters. I apologize in any case, because I simply don't know. I see these wonderful comments and would love to partake in a dialogue, but alas have difficulty doing so. If you know the answer, please shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.