Art Journal

Nature Ramblings ~ Past Times Time Travel ~ Romancing Daily Life

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Sewing: Annhhh Just Bag It! Bribing Us to Be Green (Green Movement Humor)


Them Bags, Them Bags
Sung to the traditional tune, ‘Dem Bones’

Head bone connected to the shoulder bone
Shoulder bone connected to the arm bone
Arm bone connected to the wrist bone
Wrist bone connected to the hand bone
Hand bone connected to the finger bone
Finger bone holding them bags!

Them bags, them bags, gonna walk around
Them bags, them bags, gonna walk around
Them bags, them bags, gonna walk around
Oh HEAR the word of the Green!
The Green Studies Handbook
for Down-To-Earth Romantics

Annnh, Just Bag It!
Bribing Us to Use Our Green Shoppin’ Bags

All us environmentally conscientious types know the problem. We acquire giveway bags or maybe we buy or sew some really great ones. Then we forget to take them to the store and end up staring blankly at the clerk when asked, ‘Pastic or paper?’.

Here’s what worked for me.


Remember a long time ago when you said you would never bribe a child to do something? That’s right. Children should be motivated by the pleasure of the activity and the righteous feeling that comes with well – doing!

If you nodded your head vigorously, then I bet you haven’t had or cared for a child in a long time, have you? Next time a young child comes over, be prepared with a few of those I-Voted stickers you got handed the last time you went to the polls.
Once I too forgot my bags. All those charming tote bags that I sewed from remnants, recycled bits and even brand new fabric. I was really into sewing bags for awhile. And all of them stayed tucked away at home when I walked, biked or, very occasionally, drove out for groceries.

My neighborhood Trader Joes started a little bribery campaign that did it for me. Every time we remember our own bags and don’t take one of their bags, we get to fill out a little drawing slip, and pop it in the bucket by the managers desk. It’s on the honor system. If I think I saved two bags, that’s how many tickets I put in. Once a week somebody at the store pulls the tickets (they just have our names and phone numbers – no nobody collects it for their database) and calls the lucky winner.

I know it’s going to happen for me any day now! I’ve been doing this for about three years, and I walk to Trader Joes at least five days a week to pick up maybe some yogurt, a box of cereal or a loaf of bread. This also satisfies any gambling yearnings I may have ever had. It’s pretty clear to me that I can save my money when it comes to going to Las Vegas or Reno.  Even though I’m sure I will win every time I put the slip in the bucket, it hasn’t happened for me yet.

The prize is a $25 gift certificate at the store. Trader Joes makes a good chunk of change off shoppers. They can afford twenty-five bucks. Not only that, they may be making money off their greenness. One of the cashiers told me that the very first week they put this system into place they saved an entire palette of bags. In terms I can relate to, he told me, that’s 25% of the bags they used to buy. Trader Joes uses only paper bags for carryout – no plastic- and I think he said those cost them a nickel a piece.

Maybe you can talk a few vendors in your area into doing something to reward people for bringing their own bags. A small store wouldn’t have to give away a great big credit as Trader Joes does. Maybe they could give out the free prize of the week – something they got a lot of or they got a good deal on. Maybe they could have the drawing once a month instead of once a week. Maybe they can figure out a way to save themselves a few bucks by giving out less bags and make it fun.

It worked for me.

Post Script
Whole Foods is a longer walk for me, and I don’t get there as often. They have a system whereby you can donate the nickel or two cents, or whatever the cost of the bag you didn’t use, to one of several charities. This is tied into the automation in the cash register system, but I don’t know why a regular small store couldn’t have one of those little donation jars for earthquake relief or something similar out, with a big sign encouraging you to donate the savings from your bagless use to the jar. The store could have a special campaign (a poster) up on the wall and say something about encouraging ourselves to be green and, at the same time, help out somebody. Oh, you marketing types, you get the idea.


  1. I have a BIG collection of bags, and I love them all. Always have, too. In fact I wish I had some that I had years ago. Oh gives me an idea about a bag vignette...hmmmm, I always have some bags hanging around on some chair, or in the closet on a hanger. A bag is better than a purse, in my opinion.

  2. I particularly like how we can leave a lot of JUNK in a bag (oo that is so not romantic)


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