Sunday, February 03, 2008

Shopping Green » Blog Archive » Paper or Plastic? How About Neither…

"Plastic bags have been around for about 25 years. Which means that our mothers and grandmothers can still remember going shopping, with their own Reusable Bags. If they could do it, I think so can we…"
I remember traveling to Argentina as a kid to visit family. My grandmother had her little mesh bag she carried, putting her purchases in it and carrying them home. In general, I think these are a good idea.

The problem I see with them is a difference in how we shop from then to now. The small neighborhood shopkeepers - bakers, butchers, deli and produce - have been replaced by supermarkets, superstores and warehouses. There's not a single local vendor close enough to walk to. Not one.

So, as the supermarkets promised convenience for us, they also pushed us to use our cars more. The larger stores didn't need to be as close together, moving them further from homes and making the short walking trip difficult to impossible. And the massive buying power cut into the profits of the smaller vendors, closing their doors.

So instead of making a short trip for an item or two, it's more efficient to get all your shopping done at once. But to do that, you need to be able to carry a larger quantity of items. And for this we started using the car.

Interestingly, a trend in the last few years has been for new malls to open that return to the feel of the local market, with stores aligned on "streets", looking like a small town. What if a developer were to pose the same idea to grocers, perhaps one grocer opening a number of smaller stores in such a venue? My guess is that if these were put close enough together, you might actually find some people changing their habits, even if slightly.

I understand and applaud the idea of removing plastic bags from stores. But unless we change our behavior in terms of how we shop, the reusable bag concept doesn't fit the average home.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

No comments: