Thursday, January 14, 2010

Back in the motherland

Nothing says "entitled consumerist snob" like the debate about free plastic bags at stores, something which people in the Netherlands have more or less relegated to a convenience but not a necessity. On Saturdays (the major shopping day), you'll see little old ladies trucking their roller-bags--sort of like rolling suitcases, but meant for carrying groceries and stuff like that--all over town, and most people lug around at least one large canvas bag. Even if they do have a plastic bag from a store, you can pretty much bet that it will have goods from several other stores inside.

I simply do not--can not--understand the mindset that people have that makes them think that they are entitled to free bags at stores. It was a rather big shock to me, seeing how many such bags my mother regularly received when I visited. I asked her why she didn't simply buy a tougher bag. I don't remember her answer.

It's not so much the plastic that bothers me as the extravagant wastage. Flimsy bags (which I actually try to get because I can put cat poop in them) rip after the first use, effectively nullifying any chance they have of reusal. The sturdier bags--the kinds you have to pay for in the supermarkets here--take up too much space, although we use them to schlep around shoes, and I use one to protect my purse against rain. Even so, we have an excess of bags--each one can be reused a plethora of times, and we usually do, unless one of us makes an impromptu trip to the supermarket, and forgets to bring a bag. But still--it's so much wasted plastic--you can't even pretend it's useful, because let's face it: canvas tote bags are so much better.

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