I was in the supermarket checkout line when a quiet voice spoke to me.
“So, Judy, what’s your plan for next month?”
I looked around. My check-out teller seemed to have spoken. “Um, plan? I have no plan — just some baking for Purim and maybe St. Patrick’s Day. Why?”
“I mean, what’s your plan for shopping after March 1st? That’s when all these single-use plastic bags are going to be illegal, you know.”
“But that’s not until 2020, right? We’ve got plenty of time.”
“Judy, this IS 2020!” exclaimed the voice. “You’d better buy some stronger coffee and get with the program!
Yikes! I had totally forgotten about the great bag embargo! The bag apocalypse! The great bag…
“Judy,” said the little voice, which had apparently followed me out to the parking lot. “This isn’t funny. March 1st is almost upon us, and we need a plan!”
I opened the car trunk and spoke back to the voice.
“There,” I said. “Feast your eyes on that. Dozens of bags, all ready to go.” And indeed there were — at least two dozen anyway, all neatly folded and waiting for use.
Now that the little voice — my personal Jiminy Cricket, apparently — was nagging at me, I recalled something about this law having been passed in Albany almost a year ago. Flimsy grocery-store bags are going to be illegal, and we’ll all have to adjust: either by bringing our own bags into the store or paying for better bags at point of purchase.
There will be exceptions for the bags used for produce, or raw meat, and for newspapers — but in general, life as I’ve known it is going to come to an end!
“Judy, what are you worried about? You’ve got this! Your own brother called you The Bag Woman of Fifth Avenue!”
“He didn’t mean it as a compliment.”
“I know, but he kinda had a point.” It’s true that when I lived in the city, I carried lots of books and papers to work; but since I wanted my hands free to grab subway poles, I started a collection of tote bags. Classy ones, mind you, from public television, L.L. Bean and Longchamps.
The collection — and the bags — only grew larger once I moved to the suburbs and had children, until I had an entire arsenal’s worth, all sitting there patiently in the trunk of my car.
The only problem was, I kept forgetting to take a single one of them into the store with me. Ever.
I admire the folks who bring their own bags to the store, but I have never succeeded at being one of them.
Eventually, I realized that just having bags in the trunk was not enough, because I never opened the trunk, or saw those bags, till my shopping was done. So I started moving them to the back seat — only to have to move them out again whenever I had passengers.
One time, determined to take at least a few bags all the way into the store with me, I wrapped them around the shoulder strap of my purse.
But, keys in hand and credit card in my back pocket, that only guaranteed that I left them all together in a heap…until getting back to the car with my shopping done, I realized, “Oh, thank heavens my purse wasn’t stolen, I had just camouflaged it from myself!”
So I am going to need some better way to remember my shopping bags, come the first of March.
Maybe I’ll start folding some of the smaller kind into my purse. Then I can fold and stuff a number of others into my coat pockets. My winter parka has a lot of pockets, so if the cold weather keeps up, that ought to get me at least through April.
On the downside, it might make me look a little puffy. A bit like a modern-day Michelin Man.
But I mustn’t let vanity keep me from saving the environment!
You can just call me the Bag Woman of Northern Boulevard.