Bag Lady Redux

Let me tell you about my bags. I have many.

My black knapsack is my go-to bag for any kind of shopping. I bought it for $15 in 2003 in Chinatown during the SARS epidemic, half off because the shop owner was just so delighted that anybody was in his store at all. Nine years later, it’s seen better days – it’s faded, a couple of parts are broken, and I’ve had to reattach the straps a couple of times. I’ve started looking for a replacement because eventually this bag will die, but in the meantime, I use it at least a few times a week for grocery shopping, running books back and forth to the library and pretty much any other situation where I need to carry stuff. It’s stylish and I get many compliments on the ginormous zipper.

Being car-free (I don’t even have a driver’s licence), all of my shopping requires the process of carrying it home, either by foot or TTC, and in addition to the knapsack, I also use a couple of canvas bags. The Hudson’s Bay bag was purchased for $1 in 1991 and has been used at least once a week for the past 21 years. It used to have a mate but the bottom of that one gave out a few years back, so now I use this canvas bag that I got when I ran the food and drink website TasteTO. It’s not as roomy as the Bay bag, but it’s good and sturdy.

Those three bags are the backbone of most of my shopping expeditions, and I almost never use a plastic bag unless I have bought more stuff than will fit in my regular trio. For really big loads, I also have a shopping buggy, but it’s unwieldy and I try to avoid it if I can.

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Bag Lady

As of today, the City of Toronto requires all retailers to charge 5 cents for a plastic bag. Paper bags that do not have plastic handles or grommets are exempt.

Many grocery stores have charged for bags for years so most people are in the habit of bringing their own bags, backpacks or carts – or picking up a cardboard box at the checkout. I have no issue with this practice; for grocery shopping I am a hard-core bag bringer – my pair of tired old cotton twill bags from the Hudson’s Bay Company date back to 1991. I will undoubtedly shed a tear when they give up the ghost, mostly because the handles are the perfect length.

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Will That be Paper, Cardboard, or Would You Like to Put Your Groceries in Your Pockets?

Imagine the world without plastic bags. More importantly, try to imagine buying groceries without the things. Now, many people are quite able and willing to do this (I use a backpack and/or bundle buggy along with canvas bags) but for most people, no bags = dilemma.

Loblaws, a Canadian grocery chain, announced today that one of their stores in Milton, Ontario, a suburb of Toronto, would be the first bagless store in North America.

In its continued effort to become a more responsible GREEN retailer, and in response to Canadian consumer support for environmental initiatives, the new Milton Loblaw Superstore will be the first major grocery and general merchandise retail store in North America to eliminate traditional plastic grocery bags at the checkouts.

In April of this year, Loblaw Companies Limited made a commitment to reduce 1 billion plastic grocery bags from Canada’s landfills within one year. Reducing the amount of plastic grocery bags offered in stores, and offering more sustainable choices, will help achieve this goal. Currently, Ontarians use almost 80 plastic bags per second, close to 7 million plastic bags per day.

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