The Shopping Bag/Industrial Complex


The First Iron Law of Consumerism reads: Everything must be contained within in something else.

We all know what this means. All items, no matter how trivial, must be packaged.

The Second Iron Law of Consumerism declares: All packages must be bagged.

Again, we understand the implications. Even a candy bar, already trussed up like a Christmas present, must be placed in a bag.

Your only choice is “paper or plastic?”

The Third Iron Law of Consumerism dictates: All bags must be bagged.

Again, the result obvious. This double and triple bagging process will continue with no logical limit until the consumer shrieks, “What the heck are you doing? It’s only a candy bar for Pete Sake.”

There is, of course, an alternative to the Second Iron Law of Consumerism. The consumer has the option of bringing their own bag to the store.

Personally, this is something I never do.

I consider it a tragedy that some municipalities and states, motivated by misguided environmentalism, are actually banning single-use bags.

We have tried cloth shopping bags and the result was a greater environmental catastrophe than plastic bags. Apparently, someone has not thought this thing through.

You see, a plastic bag can be easily tossed into the trash, which is the source of the plastic bag problem – but a cloth bag cannot be so easily discarded – to do so requires overcoming a sharp pang of guilt – because who throws out cloth bags?

We have an entire closet devoted exclusively to avoiding the sin of tossing out cloth bags.

We have light green bags with dark green lettering encouraging us to be greener still. We have bright orange and brilliant yellow road-safety bags. We have a bale of pink bags that grows a little more every time we attend a cancer fund raiser.

Our grandchildren present us with new cloth shopping bags on every visit; admonishing us to conserve. Conservationists do the same; admonishing us to visit the nature center more often.

I might be a cynic, but I suspect a sinister and powerful special interest is behind all this bagging, re-bagging and cloth bagging. Call it The Shopping Bag/Industrial Complex.

They are going to get you one way or the other. If you say paper, they got you. If you say plastic, they got you. If you bring your own bag, the clerk sneers down his snotty little nose at you until you accept a cloth bag with the store’s logo on it.

Personally, I always ask for plastic. I do this because my wife has two cats.

There is nothing better for packaging and trashing what is in a litter-box than a plastic shopping bag.

It is why I think the ban on single-use bags is misguided.

Do you know what will happen once the government bans plastic grocery bags?

Sure you do.

The Shopping Bag/Industrial Complex will merely rebrand the single-use plastic bag as Kitty Litter Bags and sell just as many of them.

Until then I will continue to editorialize at the check-out counter by meekly whispering, “Could you please triple bag that candy bar… it’s for the cats.”

Author: Almost Iowa

33 thoughts on “The Shopping Bag/Industrial Complex”

  1. In these Covid days we’re not allowed our cloth bags because… so paper and plastic it is. Which, I agree, makes cleaning up so-o-o-0 much easier. No need to buy plastic trash bags while they’re handing them out free.

  2. We deliberately leave our fabric bags in the car when we shop at one particular store because the charge for the grocery bags is cheaper than what they charge for plastic bin liners. We are saving fractions of pennies! [insert eyeroll] Imagine our delight when during the first wave, they didn’t want us to use our grimy old germ-laden fabric bags and gave us plastic for free!

    On a serious note – hope the number of pink plastic bags in your collection diminishes for all the right reasons.

  3. I have a whole trunk full of reusable shopping bags, which I usually forgot to bring into the store. Now they’re banned due to Covid, so we’re back to the “paper or plastic?” question. I recycle the plastic and reuse the paper, so I choose either. But I hope we never totally ban plastic bags, as I walk shelter dogs three days a week and pick up a lot of poop while doing so. I use little plastic bags for that, and there is no way I’m doing that with a little paper bag…..for obvious reasons!

  4. I reuse the plastic bags for a variety of things and recycle the rest and use the recyclable bags to carry to plastic bags from the car into the house. Whew, who knew we could get this much participation talking about a plastic bag. 🙂 I’m SO glad you’re back. 🙂

  5. I guess biodegradable plastic is not cost effective. I know they exist. We had a grocery store that tried them some years ago. People with pets cannot do what they need to do with paper.

  6. I get plastic for the dog poopies. I’ve tried scoopers since they can be re-used, but my dog is basically a diarrhea machine and a scooper just won’t do.

  7. Ah, but you live a long ways from the ocean where all plastic things eventually end up. 🙂 Also another iron clad rule. Peggy, who is much better at this than I, has a series of nesting nylon-type bags that she has been using for 30 years. She doesn’t glare at me when I shop and end up with plastic bags, but I definitely sense disapproval. She also bags her own groceries to make it easy on the clerks. They like her. 🙂 –Curt

  8. Those single-use bags get multi-use for me. Produce bags get reuse as separate use for kitchen waste that goes bad before the trucks come, plastic grocery bags are dandy for small trash cans, and that time I run in to pick up as few things, and as always come out with a few more. Who’d wanna pay extra for that?!

  9. I have three cats so I relish when the clerk says, “This is heavy. I’m gonna double-bag it.” Be my guest. You wanna know where these are headed? My car is loaded with cloth bags. They manage to stay there, too. A few I had to toss. After a year in the car, they disintegrated. You might want to rethink that closet….. Quite a few stores refuse to bag items when a shopper brings their own cloth bag–but the store will gladly sell you one of theirs. Something is wrong here.

  10. I have two cats. Any small plastic bag that comes into our lives eventually fulfils it’s ultimate role for poop.
    I was annoyed recently when I couldn’t leave a winery with my purchase without it in a large bottle bag. All to walk a few steps to the van. Yet I can leave a bottle shop with a purchase unwrapped and walk the entire street if I wanted.
    I don’t want to be free advertising for any company, and so also won’t wear clothing with logos.

  11. We used to use those plastic bags for kitty litter too. Lol. And for lining trash cans. But we are “bring our own bag” shoppers. You know, Greg,…. about the cloth bags stacked in the closet… you’re supposed to reuse them. That’s sort of the point. 😀 😀

    1. you’re supposed to reuse them.

      What madness is this?

      “Mad I call it, for to define true madness, what is’t to be nothing else but mad?”

      Some guy named Bill wrote that a long time ago. I always liked it. 🙂

        1. My muse and I broke up and have not spoken in months as you can see by my absence – but I have been dating other muses – nothing serious so far….. 🙂

  12. Since I have been banned from shopping coupled with the ban on leaving the house whatever is used for groceries is completely out of my hands. I feel so free.. Super post, Greg.

      1. I’m 79 years old and my wife does not want to lose me to Rona. I say banned but I do get to leave ifI am not going to be anywhere near humans. Means mostly backyard and a couple of photo shoots.

  13. Irony of ironies: after a passionate campaign to remove single-use plastic bags from our lives, the grocery stores here no longer will bag groceries in shopper-provided bags. Instead, everything has to go into single use plastic or paper. Covid, don’t you know. Micro-managers are rejoicing, not to mention members of the SBIC.

    1. Micro-managers are rejoicing

      Yesterday while waiting in the checkout line at IKEA, the woman in front of me turned and snapped, “Could you give me six feet?”

      One could not help but notice the unmistakable tone of triumph in her voice.

      In response, I merely pointed to the foot prints painted on the floor every six feet upon one of which I was standing…

      And thus felt the same slight rush of triumph.

      1. Well that you did not say with six feet you might gain two mouths. And foresouth one is three too many as we stand. Oops I left out the opening phrase ‘bless you dear lady…’

  14. Our state banned the single use bags. Until they are fully gone, there’s a 10¢ tax on them. Stores have to pay to process the tax, and can’t keep any of it. They are allowed to “sell” paper bags for 10¢, so that’s what most have opted to do. We bought a box of “Tee-shirt” bags at Costco. We bring our own single-use plastic bags. As you say, the bag makers don’t care.

  15. I like that you have a dedicated closet space. Architects take note! Maybe you’ll find those pink bags can also transport certain kitty products.

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