Posted by: highmountainmuse | March 24, 2009

I’ll take plastic…

A plastic grocery bag gets a second chance in life:  covering a loaf of homemade bread.

A plastic grocery bag gets a second chance in life: covering a loaf of homemade bread.

I am a self confessed Homebody. I don’t leave the mountain very much.  In January, I took a town trip to bring Alan to the vet.  In February, I had to attend a meeting to try to deal with the dreaded in-laws (no doubt, I would have preferred to stay home!).  Earlier this month, I took a trip up to Denver to satiate my need for sisterly love.


Getting in the truck once a month is usual it for me.  That’s all I need. As you can figure, no matter what I do on the one trip a month, this can not amount to a great deal of shopping.  Truth is, I do not like to shop. I’m only in my 40’s, but already I hear myself whining, “gosh, will you look at the price of that!  I remember when it cost…”  Yes, that’s me. Already. But still, I have to feed my family, and until I can raise and grow everything, I’ll have to rely on store bought groceries.


I do not shop at the fancier stores that politely ask you at the check out, “paper or plastic?” Where I shop, they don’t give you a choice, they just start bagging. But as you can imagine, while they are bagging, I am the sort to chat away with the check out person, though not about what kind of bags I prefer.  About just stuff like the weather, traffic, the price of gas, how much those tomatoes cost…


I believe in organic produce. I find it very hard to believe that processed foods or petroleum products are good for my family. I wish there was nothing but local and fresh and chemical free. But I can not spend that price for a head of lettuce I can grown on my own for the better part of the year, or support buying a tomato in the winter which was flown in from the other side of the Equator.  I don’t know facts and figures, but I always wonder how much fuel was used flying in that organic produce vs. how much the standard commercial growers spray on their crops.  It’s a tough choice, and until we figure out a better way, there are no easy answers.  We all want to do the right thing, and we can start by thinking… but it’s hard to figure what the right thing is some times. Can’t say I want those chemicals in my child’s body, but I also would rather support my local growing economy, even thought they still rely so heavily on chemical fertilizers and sprays. What’s a woman to do?


Until we figure out the “right” answer, if there is just one, we each need to do what we believe is the best option. I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but I confess I commit the sin of shopping at Walmarts and our simple standard local grocery store, and buying a case of canned tomatoes if they are on sale.  They’ll do.  They’ll feed us without increasing our debt too much. 


Now, again, since I do not shop very often, when I do go, I usually have a big list. I leave over a hundred bucks deeper in debt, and with a mighty full cart jam-packed with stuffed bags. Plastic bags.  That’s right:  I’ll take plastic. So, this, too, is something we need to consider.  And once again, I sure don’t have the right answer.


I’ve been into those fancier stores where people bring their own bags, usually just one or two, and throw in a few very fancy items.  Certainly, they are not shopping for a family, for a week or more, or even considering bargains, from where the food came, packaging costs, and other serious considerations. How many trips per week, let alone per month, do you “stop by” the grocery store, in your SUV? Does bringing your own bag out way the expended fuel, or justify the gourmet, imported items purchased, and it’s packaging?  I wonder… but perhaps I just think these things to make me feel better for being the cheap skate that I am, not shopping regularly, and not buying these fancy items that really do look good.


No, I’ll stick to home made.  Home grown when I can.  And simple.  But I’ll also stick to plastic bags.  Why?  Well, I use them!  I don’t buy my bread in bags.  But when I make my dough several times a week, I cover the bowl with plastic. I don’t need to buy plastic wrap, and pay for that convenience and packaging. I just use my plastic bags. Then I re-use the bag for covering the bread after it is baked, too. 


I have so many used for my plastic bags: from trash bin liners to snack pack bags; from wrap and packaging for mailing fragile items, to muddy boot covers (thanks to Scotty for teaching us this one: slip them on over your boots if you need to go in the house really quickly and don’t feel like unlacing…)


I sure find uses for all those plastic bags we bring home, and truly, I run out of them right about the time that I’m due for another trip to the grocery store.  Can I justify my “consumptive use” of plastic bags?  Can I still take plastic and be considered “green?”


I thought my life was a good example of living a simple, frugal, earth-friendly life. But the more I read, the more I am led to question that I’m not “green” enough.  I don’t buy the right “green” things.  Truth is, I don’t buy much, period.  It gets confusing trying to do the right thing, doesn’t it?  Guess it all comes down to thinking about our choices,  really think them all the way through, then make our decisions based on what each of us truly believes is the best choice.  How lucky we are to have choices.


  1. […] High Mountain Musing placed an observative post today on Iâ […]

  2. Had to smile and respond to this one. I so hear you. You start weighing what it really costs to make some choices over others and, in the final analysis, you have to go with what brings you peace. I use plastic bags, paper bags and cloth bags and drive my car thru town searching for organic, all the while wondering how much my car is crudding up the environment. I’m planting tomatoes this summer in my backyard. I suppose I’ll put them in plastic bags as I pick them off the vine. I use them like mad. I loathe Walmart. But sometimes I can’t not shop there. You do what you can because, you’re right, doing the “right thing” is a study in layers of consequences we can’t always fathom. Thanks for this…

  3. Hear, hear! Although not buying much period, is even better than buying the “right” products. And unfortuantely, marketing often dissembles, making “wrong” products look “right.”

    We have about a dozen canvas bags for grocery shopping (to handle those things we buy in bulk, on sale) but I’ll admit, sometimes I ask for the plastic; I use and re-use them too!

    I think that you are doing great! Too many people don’t even think about it….

  4. Hi. I found your site because I have an ongoing Google Alert for the word “plastic.” See, I am one of those arguing against plastic pretty strongly. I don’t do it while driving my big SUV. In fact, I don’t own a car. Usually, I’m on foot or on my bike. And I try to buy local foods as much as I can. Simple and local. But I do live in an urban area. And I think my life and the things I have access to are different from yours.

    It sounds to me like you are doing a great job environmentally. Growing your own food. Only driving into town once a month. Buying as little as possible. Probably these measures outweigh the plastic bags.

    On the other hand, what did our ancestors do before plastic bags? They baked bread without plastic. In fact, I remember my mom putting a damp towel over her rising dough. Not plastic.

    I will admit that I use a plastic grocery bag for my fresh bread. But first, I put the bread in a cloth bag because I don’t want chemicals from the plastic leaching into my food. And then, I reuse that same plastic bag over and over. I haven’t needed to take a new plastic bag in nearly two years.

    Bin liners? We don’t use them. We compost all of our food waste and food-soiled paper. After recycling everything we can, what’s left is not messy enough to require a liner.

    These are just a few suggestions. I have come up with plenty of ways to avoid plastic, which brings with it a whole host of environmental problems. If you’re interested, you can find them at

    But like I said, it sounds like you are living much lighter on the planet than many people who bring their reusable bags and then fill them up with un-eco products. I’m not criticizing. Just letting you know that doing without the plastic may not be as difficult as you think.


  5. I sometimes wonder if I think too much and still don’t figure anything out…
    A big lesson I try to learn from my limited experiences shopping is that we just can’t judge. We can just try. I may not be able to afford everything I want (ie: organic produce), but I can make changes that work within my budget that I feel can help in any small way (ie: shop less). Hopefully all of our little changes will make a little difference.

  6. I think a lot of the ‘bring your own bag’ deal is a fad and trend. It’s hip to be green right now, and one of the more visible signs of being ‘eco-chic’ is a reusable grocery bag. While I fully support any trend that asks people to jump on an earth friendly bandwagon, I’m afraid it’s gotten to the point of just image and not understanding. Hence, the SUVs that drive the people with the reusable bags to the fancy grocery stores. I’m just a whiner. Even baby steps are good steps.

    And I fully support homegrown, homemade, and homebred. My goal is by 2010 to be able to have one day a week where all my meals are homemade.

  7. Nancy, I love your goal! I’ll try for that, too.

  8. Beth, sorry for the delay in seeing and responding to your comment. It was in the “spam” folder, but I’m glad I saw it and read it. Thank you, you have some excellent points and ideas and I have a lot of respect for anyone who does what they believe is the right thing. We all have much to learn, but we all can start by trying.

  9. Whew. I was really on a roll when I wrote that comment, wasn’t I? It’s loooooooooong! Glad you found it. I was worried I did all that writing for nothing. Thanks for your nice words and comment on my blog as well!

  10. This blog’s great!! Thanks :).

  11. […] as is beautifully described here – “I’ll Take Plastic” – we go through a wrestling match over how “green” we are or are not, how “organic,” or […]

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