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Old 10-26-08, 03:02 AM   #1
recumelectric
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Wal mart and the plastic bags (sigh)

I go to Walmart mainly for prescriptions because they are one of the few places that doesn't gouge me and my insurance company. (In fact, I pay outright for 2 of them, since it's cheaper that way.) Of course, they get me for other stuff, since I will shop while waiting for a prescription to be filled.

Anyway, a month ago, I bought some things there and I had my permanent Trader Joe's bag with me. It fits nicely in my bike basket and is good for a small load of groceries. As I went through the check-out, the clerk started throwing my items in a plastic bag. I said, "I don't want that bag. I already have a bag." Then I showed her mine. She gave me a dirty look, pulled the items out of the plastic bag, and then threw the plastic bag in the trash.

I went to customer service to complain about this. I explained that there was no point in me bringing a bag if the clerk was going to throw a basically unused bag in the trash. They said that the bags are recycled, they don't waste, etc. (To me, spending the energy to recycle an un-used bag is wasteful, but que sera.)

Today, I when I bought meds and groceries, I put the Trader Joe's bag first on the conveyor belt, so the clerk wouldn't make the mistake of bagging the stuff in plastic. ...So she bags my first two items in plastic before I catch her, and then says, "There's no price tag on this" (about my bag) and "I'll have to get price check." I tell her that it was purchased elsewhere to carry groceries, so that I can save a plastic bag. I have to tell her this twice. Then she takes the items that she had already placed in a plastic bag(still in the bag), and puts them in the permanent bag.

I say, "That kind of defeats the purpose. I brought my own bag so you wouldn't have to use one more bag."

Then there were a few items (chips) that wouldn't fit, and I told her that I could deal with one bag that would hang off the handlebars on my bike. So she double bags them. WTF???

I wasted more petroleum on that trip than I saved by riding 1/2 mile.
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Old 10-26-08, 03:39 AM   #2
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haven't been to Wally World in a long time, although there's one a mile or so from the house (right off the bike trail)...

i do recall that the clerks have a store setup system: items are bagged on a revolving 'lazy susan'; deviation from that system would certainly cause confusion...

perhaps it would be different if the chain had its own brand of reusable bags (such as the Publix food chain down here)?

good for you on recycling though... we do our share in our town, but interestingly, St. Pete won't!
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Old 10-26-08, 08:02 AM   #3
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Oh don't EVEN get me started on that place.
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Old 10-26-08, 08:14 AM   #4
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Walmart here does have reusable Walmart Fabric bags available.....we're a test market, though.

As bad as they are, though, they do have some social redemption here.....they are helping pay for bike lanes and commuter paths (Yeah, real commuter paths, not "linear parks") over in West Lafayette, and are looking at the same over here on my side of the river. Now, all the paths will lead to Walmart, but elsewhere as well.
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Old 10-26-08, 08:15 AM   #5
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I could understand Wal-mart, but Trader Joe's !?
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Old 10-26-08, 09:07 AM   #6
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I used to have to tell the checkout person at the grocery store, that when I buy only a jug of laundry detergent, it doesn't need to be bagged. Amazing that people with their own bags are still considered to be on the fringe of society. Oh well. Things will eventually change. They always do.
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Old 10-26-08, 09:15 AM   #7
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I would think that it would be up to you to let the cashier know that you wanted them to use your bags.

I mean, after all, these people and usually minimum wage people who are paid to check you out and not to think.

Maybe next time?
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Old 10-26-08, 09:42 AM   #8
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Can I vent too?

When baggers pack plastic bags they put only a couple of measely items in each bag. I guess to minimize chance of breaking the bag. Whatever.

BUT, when they bag my unbreakable permanent bags they do the same thing. I tried, in as friendly and helpful a tone as I could, to suggest they put as much in each bag as they can reasonably fit, they seemed to get peeved. So, now I bag my own stuff myself. That's fine; I don't really need or want much help of this kind in life. But is it that hard to figure out how to deal with the very bags they sell at their counters?

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Old 10-26-08, 10:40 AM   #9
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On more than one occasion, I have gotten more bags than items from our local Safeway.

Most of the time I bring my own bags and try to bag myself...of course it helps that I mostly shop at trader joes or whole foods.

In many parts of Europe, you are expected to bag for yourself, nobody else will do it for you. And you pay for each plastic bag. My kind of system.
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Old 10-26-08, 10:47 AM   #10
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pulled the items out of the plastic bag, and then threw the plastic bag in the trash.
I've seen this same thing. What is the rationale here? Because the items from the store touched the bag it is now a biohazard? Someone isn't thinking this through.
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Old 10-26-08, 11:05 AM   #11
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The checkers/baggers can't read your mind. Tell them what you want before they start.
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Old 10-26-08, 11:38 AM   #12
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The "pay for plastics" scheme actually seems to be gaining some popularity in the US. Good, even at a few cents per bag, it at least might get some people to think about it. Or demand the bagger put more than two damn items in a bag.
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Old 10-26-08, 07:11 PM   #13
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Some cities in California are considering outlawing plastic bags. Aside from Trader Joe's, Costco no longer provides plastic bags, just cardboard boxes.
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Old 10-26-08, 07:20 PM   #14
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The stores I frequent here, A&P, Shop-Rite, and Squat & Grunt... err... Stop & Shop, give you a credit of from two cents to ten cents per bag you bring with you, depending on the store.

And when I'm using my backpack I make damn sure they count that as a bag too, one brain damaged register monkey wanted to argue the point.
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Old 10-26-08, 07:39 PM   #15
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Hey folks, a little reality check here, and believe me, I am not condoning "cashier brainless behavior", but everyone complains about them and virtually noone ever tells them they're doing a good job. I'm sure it's pretty much impossible to crack a smile when you are making minimum wage, are being watched on camera and by often unreasonable supervision and have to deal with a continuous stream of annoyed customers.

Today, I actually had a nice, but brief conversation with the cashier, which really annoyed the next person on line who was evidently late for the football game.

All I'm asking is that, with every complaint you make, reward the next person that you feel has done a decent job by you.

That said, I think it's great to use those reuseable tyvec bags instead of plastic. I try to take only the plastic bags I need to double as litter poop bags...my cat Vito seems to produce more than I can keep up with and the smaller bags fit perfectly down the trash chute.
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Old 10-26-08, 07:44 PM   #16
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Hey folks, a little reality check here, and believe me, I am not condoning "cashier brainless behavior", but everyone complains about them and virtually noone ever tells them they're doing a good job. I'm sure it's pretty much impossible to crack a smile when you are making minimum wage, are being watched on camera and by often unreasonable supervision and have to deal with a continuous stream of annoyed customers.

Today, I actually had a nice, but brief conversation with the cashier, which really annoyed the next person on line who was evidently late for the football game.

All I'm asking is that, with every complaint you make, reward the next person that you feel has done a decent job by you.

That said, I think it's great to use those reuseable tyvec bags instead of plastic. I try to take only the plastic bags I need to double as litter poop bags...my cat Vito seems to produce more than I can keep up with and the smaller bags fit perfectly down the trash chute.
You're assuming that no one does that, I make sure to have something nice to say to the ones that warrant it, maybe a relatively clean joke or just some comment meant to elicit a smile, but the sad fact is that the ones you don't mind being nice to are getting pushed into the minority by the addle-pated mouth breathers that got the job because "Do you want fries with that?" was a job skill they just couldn't master.
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Old 10-26-08, 07:50 PM   #17
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[QUOTE=recumelectric;7734321]I go to Walmart mainly for prescriptions because they are one of the few places that doesn't gouge me and my insurance company. (In fact, I pay outright for 2 of them, since it's cheaper that way.) Of course, they get me for other stuff, since I will shop while waiting for a prescription to be filled.

Check around, nearly everyone is ofering $4.00 prescriptions now. You don't have to deal with Walmart to get cheap prescriptions.
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Old 10-26-08, 07:53 PM   #18
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Costco no longer provides plastic bags, just cardboard boxes.
Heh, I forgot about that. I love it, it's so efficient. Crap comes in in cardboard boxes, crap goes out in cardboard boxes.
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Old 10-26-08, 07:55 PM   #19
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You're assuming that no one does that, I make sure to have something nice to say to the ones that warrant it, maybe a relatively clean joke or just some comment meant to elicit a smile, but the sad fact is that the ones you don't mind being nice to are getting pushed into the minority by the addle-pated mouth breathers that got the job because "Do you want fries with that?" was a job skill they just couldn't master.
Cool; glad to hear that...
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Old 10-26-08, 08:10 PM   #20
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I wasted more petroleum on that trip than I saved by riding 1/2 mile.
I had a cashier at the grocery store once double-bag a single loaf of bread.

However, those plastic bags petroleum-wise really amount to almost nothing. The reason the bags are so ubiquitous is because they're so cheap, including raw material-wise. It actually takes more fuel to transport heavier paper bags to the store than it does to make and transport the plastic film bags. The real problem with the bags is when people toss them away carelessly and they end up making a mess of the place. The extra bag you got with your chips was nearly a wash in terms of petroleum.

I'm a little skeptical of the frequent claim that the bags that get returned get washed and re-used. They're so cheap to mass produce, I have a hard time imagining sorting, cleaning, and folding being cost effective.

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Old 10-26-08, 08:21 PM   #21
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http://www.reusablebags.com/
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Old 10-26-08, 09:00 PM   #22
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That's why it's called untrained labor....whatever minimum wage is now is too much to be paying some people.
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Old 10-27-08, 12:11 AM   #23
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The checkers/baggers can't read your mind. Tell them what you want before they start.
Often, they start bagging before I can catch them. I'll be putting my stuff on the belt while the customer in front is going through, and before I realize it, my stuff is getting rung up and bagged. That's why I put the re-usable bag on the belt before any other items--to alert the cashier that I wanted to use it.

By the way, I am generally nice to cashiers, including the one in this story. I just wanted her to put my items in my bag.
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Old 10-27-08, 03:40 AM   #24
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I only go through the self checkout there so I don't end up with a million bags.
+1

and there is the solution to the original problem for the OP!

(unfortunately, i've only seen self-checkouts at the local Lowe's; although Aldi's has self-bagging *only*)
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Old 10-27-08, 05:14 AM   #25
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I re-use the hell out of those plastic bags. I use them mainly instead of plastic garbage bags in my bathrooms. I also keep some in the car to use for trash bags. The office, too.. I also use them as packing material when I ship things.

It should be obvious that more resources are required to manufacture a "permanent" bag such as the one the OP mentioned. The question is, how many of those little plastic bags could be made with the equivalent energy and resources? Another way to put it, how many times would one have to use the permanent bag to really see a net reduction in energy and resource use. Simply having the heavier bag in your car will cause your car to use more gas. That also needs to be accounted for. Moving mass around is not free.

I don't think it's obvious that these permanent bags are better. If a thorough study has been done and published (after having been peer reviewed since so many lately haven't been), I'd be interested in reading it.

Anyone in the permanent-bag-lobby here have one?
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