My Chico Bag and Me
I never leave home without it – my Chico Bag, that is. The sturdy reusable bag is one of the essentials I always stuff into my backpack whenever I go food shopping. It’s as important as to me as my wallet, my keys and my MetroCard.
With my Chico Bag, I fancy myself a protectress of the environment. The bag is my shield against the forces of evil trying to hurt Mother Earth. Chico, I tell myself, won’t let me add any more plastic into our waste stream than I need to.
According to Chico Bag’s web site, I’m saving anywhere from 300 – 700 plastic shopping bags per year, saving 3 -7 gallons of crude oil. That’s not bad, a small victory over everyday environmental complacency.
I know I’ve done my job whenever I look under my kitchen sink. I now can see the Ajax, the laundry detergent, the SOS pads – all the household cleaners. I don’t have to feel my way through all the plastic bags once heaped there to find them. Don’t get me wrong. I still have some plastic bags, but just enough for my trash baskets and the recyclables that I drop off in the basement of my building.
So, yes, my Chico Bag is good for the environment. But it also has other benefits. I get approving looks from people standing in line at the checkout counter, and the cashiers appreciate the help.
Sometimes, though, I have taken the plastic thing too far. Once, I threw a bunch of wet kale into my shopping basket, refusing to place it first into a plastic bag. That was a mistake. The wet kale soiled and wet my cereal, my chocolate and other dry packaged goods in the basket. Then, it made a mess at the checkout counter.
I think my zealousness came from a dirty look I got from a woman at the farmers market a few weeks before. I asked for a plastic bag for my Swiss chard, even though I had my Chico Bag. I didn’t want the delicate leafy crop to get battered by my apples, my peaches and my milk. The young woman at the stand clearly disapproved.
The truth is that I can’t rely on my Chico Bag to eliminate all the plastic I pick up at the grocers. I need plastic to weigh pears and potatoes, to keep my leafy greens from getting damaged, and to prevent sloppy checkouts.
I also need some plastic bags for use at home. Otherwise, I’d have to buy Glad garbage bags and Ziploc sandwich and freezer bags. Whenever the inventory of plastic bags under my sink runs low, I ease up on the use of Chico until my supply of bags is replenished.
“It’s not so cut and dry,” my neighbor, Anita, once told me as we were doing laundry one night. She was all for the environment, and was doing what she could to be a good green citizen, but there was just so much she could do, she said.
That’s true. But for me, that’s enough. At least we’re fighting back. We are making a difference.