Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Friday, March 1

Gapers Block

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j3s / February 23, 2004 9:58 AM


Another question to consider is how do you get to the grocery store, and how far is it?

amyc / February 23, 2004 10:02 AM

I agree in theory about the cloth bags, but in practice we have to go with plastic. It's hard to pick up dog poo in a canvas bag.

j3s / February 23, 2004 10:10 AM

Heh yeah. Sometimes I make it to the store and realize I've forgotten a canvas bag, in which case I usually opt for plastic. Then I can use it for a garbage bag or something.

Naz / February 23, 2004 10:10 AM

I'm generally paper though half of the time I bike to the grocery store and thus my messenger bag becomes the container/carrier of choice.

Jes - that answers half your question, it sometimes varies depending on where I go for certain things. I can't seem to get just everything I want at one place.

Andrew / February 23, 2004 10:12 AM

Plastic -- it's an endless supply of free garbage bags.

We are two blocks from our grocery store (the excellent Devon Market) so we get there by foot; we tend to drive to Dominick's or Whole Foods when we need something Devon doesn't carry -- fragrance-free laundry detergent, for instance.

miss ellen / February 23, 2004 10:17 AM

plastic usually; except at trader joe's, then you get those nice brown bags with the handles which are re-used as well.

jennifer / February 23, 2004 10:28 AM

Plastic, as they are far easier to handle when I make my mad dash far, far away from the gross Edmar on Chicago and Damen.

Craig / February 23, 2004 10:29 AM

Holy crap-- what a coincidence-- I was thinking about this yesterday!

I loathe plastic--

1) Stores ALWAYS double bag-- an unecessary waste.
2) Baggers tend to put only a few items in each bag so I end up with 7+ bags every trip.
3) Plastic multiply like crazy in your cabinets-- every 2 weeks I take a load to be recycled-- even using some for trash, etc.

I prefer paper for mainly visceral reasons--

It's just something about the sound & smell of a paper bag. Maybe it's nostalgia, maybe not... but paper just feel better. You carry them differently, cradled against your chest. They crinkle as you walk. They hold more groceries, they are great for taking out recycleables, etc.

Paper is also more ecological sustainible-- the trees used are quite renewable, and in a landfill I would venture to guess that a paper bag will break down in months as opposed to plastic's years.

Alice / February 23, 2004 10:33 AM

I walk to the grocery store -- about 4 blocks away from my apartment. So, I have a collapsible canvas cart that I bring and I put everything directly in to the cart -- no extra bags.

If I'm just picking up a few things, however, I go sans cart and opt for plastic -- and reuse for garbage like everyone else.

Benjy / February 23, 2004 10:39 AM

I prefer paper when they've got the handles -- like the ones at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. But why do they always feel the need to double bag? Those bags can hold like 20 lbs. alone and they look at me all surprised when I say there's no need to double bag for the 5 small items I'm buying.

When using the plastic ones at Jewel or Dominicks I hate how they put 2-3 items in a bag. I usually end up consolidating things in my trunk so I have 5 bags instead of 10 to carry in.

Will all the b*tching the grocery chains do about labor costs and low margins, maybe they could help themselves out financially by training their baggers for more efficient bag usage.

Naz / February 23, 2004 10:41 AM

I've noticed the best baggers are the older folks, the ones who look like they've been doing this for years, the real pros. They know how to sort your goods - vegetables together, cold items separate from warm, and so on. They kick arse.

paul / February 23, 2004 10:50 AM

Usually plastic, but I have to get paper bags too, in order to bag up recycling at home.

dawson / February 23, 2004 11:08 AM


miss ellen / February 23, 2004 11:13 AM

how fitting:

another message board i read just posted this wonderful site - reusable

they offer tons of reusable bags for sale; the paper v. plastic debate (neither win, they're both bad); also, lots of facts about those plastic bags that are "choking our planet".

Stewart / February 23, 2004 11:37 AM

Canvas. Unless I forget or have to pick something up on the way home from work, in which case I go with plastic because of the aforementioned poo-handling capabilities.

dog mom / February 23, 2004 12:19 PM

When I go shopping, I don't go for food I go to get some poop-bags. Also- it seems like lots of grocery stores let you return used plastic bags to recycle and you get something like 5 cents per bag- which is nice.

Paul / February 23, 2004 12:22 PM

Ellen, thank you for that link!

Craig / February 23, 2004 12:44 PM

Plastic bags are banned or heavily taxed in some countries:,

Pete / February 23, 2004 1:07 PM

Preferably paper, though Dominicks never seems to ask any more. However, I can't argue with the merits of plastic for disposing of the daily contents of the litter box (a significant consideration; we have three cats).

jima / February 23, 2004 1:16 PM

Two words, Pete: flushable litter.

anne / February 23, 2004 2:07 PM

Two things:
I was appalled when I lived in Boston at the trend at the grocery store Star Mart to bag paper _in_ plastic which was an incredible waste and no better at keeping your four 2-liters of coke from falling thru the wimpy plastic bag.

and also: I spoke with this awesome gal at the Renegade Craft Fair last fall who had crocheted a purse out of old plastic bags. She said it tore up her hands making it, but the bag was indestructable and would out last her! Plus, such a cute purse! You could probably crochet a cool bathmat out of them, come to think of it....

kegz / February 23, 2004 4:00 PM

Thanks for the flushable litter link. That looks excellent.

Ian / February 23, 2004 4:13 PM

Anything that is frozen or can be oozey goes in a plastic bag and then into my messenger bag.

Ramsin / February 23, 2004 5:33 PM

Paper, cuz, dude, I hate everything *plastic*. Wow, that was hard to type.

tony / February 23, 2004 5:58 PM

Plastic, to use as garbage bags as has been said before, and also because I've had bad experiences with the handles ripping off of paper bags.

Kenan / February 24, 2004 2:14 AM

When you buy wine, you get paper AND plastic. I always feel bad about the waste, but then I drink to forget.

atomly / February 24, 2004 8:58 AM

I ride my bike to the grocery store unless I'm going to the Dominick's in Skybridge. Either way, I use my Chrome Kremlin messenger bag as my grocery bag.

christian / February 24, 2004 1:06 PM

While in Baltimore, I would get on the train to DC and pass by a plastic bag wasteland, an area of barbed wire fences with thousands of blue plastic bags caught and shredded, all were simply blown there.

An acquaintance of mine took this idea, the shredded bag, and applied it in her art. By collecting as much blue plastic bags as she could, she created elaborate woven sculptures.

I use plastic, and recycle them as much as I can.

LD / February 24, 2004 3:11 PM

My biggest pet peeve.....baggers that don't fill up the stupid plastic bag...let me bag my stuff for christ sake....I want 3-4 bags tops....and that's on a huge grocery day, but I end up getting 17 of those flimsy plastic bags. That's half the reason I shop at Whole Paycheck...i mean Whole get the sturdy paper bag, and yes, it's nostalgic.

matt / February 24, 2004 3:24 PM

PAPER - cause they HOLDS MO! One paper bag = five plastic ones.

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