Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Day four hundred and thirty eight ... In the bag.

I would never even think of calling myself an activist.

More of a re-activist, if you will.

"Well, will you look at that ... all those picketers protesting downtown. Good for them. I hope they win."

That's pretty much the long and short of it. 

But I find that I have been doing little bits here and there when I can. I'm not lazy anymore (remove the vices and you'll swear somebody installed solar panels in the roof of your head), and so, I enjoy recycling and shopping for local products. I'm somewhat on a never ending quest to never buy anything made in China unless it's a gong, throwing stars, or soy sauce ever again. It's not easy, but it is getting easier as this country realizes that not only isn't it as lucrative to have everything put together thousands of miles from where its parts are fabricated, but people in America have just about had it with recalls and shoddy workmanship. 

However, I keep falling short of reusing my plastic bags when I shop.

Until today.

I collect the curiously insidious bags in a random pattern. It depends on how manic (or thoughtful, or new) the person at the market is about my eggs whether I get one, two, or even three bags to contain an item. When they sit together in that pack at the end of the conveyer belt they look so harmless: sleek, unobtrusive, collected, and countless. 

But their power is unleashed with one pull forward with a moistened thumb. After that, the bag is no longer capable of staying quiet. Its form is forever changed--altered beyond recognition save for the small, circular maroon triangle of arrows on the bottom urging you to "please recycle."

And then they come home and start to really show their annoying tendencies. They puff up in the closet as I stuff one into the other, threatening to forcefully remove the stuck-on hook I hang them from. I've recently been picking the odd bag up outside in my yard. The snow leaves a trail of destruction from both its season, and the one it replaces. The bags have an eerie capacity for flight, though once airborne they have a maddening fixation with tree limbs.

Oh sure, some of them get used for trash bags in smaller capacities. I love utilizing them for the bathrooms. I even put one in my car hanging from my ashtray; that one gets a lot of play. I'm only organized from my doorstep on into my house. After that it's a clutterfest. I blame the coffee.

And every time I go shopping I see the big signs hanging in the entrance way: "Reuse Your Bags." And I always think to myself, "Yeah, I need to do that. Dammit, why didn't I just put them in my car when I was done cursing out how I hate having to rely on them.

Well I've taken a small step. I put a bag of bags into the bag that I use for everything else. I needed to go to the store today and get some butter. Instead of relying on the man behind the counter with the global warming ammo, I brought my own. 

When he asked my if I needed a bag, I said no. I, instead, whipped out the crinkled mess of plastic, put my butter in, walked out and came home. And even better yet, I put that bag back in with the others.

We as people need to carry so much all day long. Even if we think we aren't going to end up having to move more than we can fit in one hand it doesn't last long. Because we can only think so far ahead, and if you're anything like me you are easily distracted and have to forcefully make choices on what comes, and what stays. There was a time before pants had pockets. And, going back further, there was a time before pants even existed, at least in certain parts of the world. But our world now is so full of the need to acquire. We have houses that heave heavy sighs when one family moves out, bringing not only what they need, but everything in the basement that had been forgotten about. Some had caused unforgettable arguments; some had ended relentless coercion (a treadmill, a weight bench, a set of skis for the whole family--now rusted and webbed) and then become just another piece of the room to stack, hang, drape, and otherwise conceal from view the reason why it was lugged in in the first place.

But today I made a small difference. All it took was the initial placement of one bag into another--plastic into leather. And this may start a whole new trend in my life. Because, in the past few years, I've been trying to not take in more than I absolutely need. 

Now I'll be able to carry what I absolutely need in a way that fits in with that ideal. And until it shows signs of wear--a hole, a rip--it'll get used, and that feeling of doing your part is addictive. It feels good to feel good--everybody knows that.

So maybe I've got a little activist in me. And I know that the re-activist is saying, "good for them ... I hope they win."

I suppose every little bit helps.

Thanks for reading.


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