Several weeks ago, a gigantic subterranean Barnes and Noble opened in my neighborhood. I bought one book, which was placed into a sturdy promotional ("eco-friendly!") bag and left with a line of others carrying matching totes. What a smugness factory those escalators were! On one side -- the "before" side -- were those entering, bare and weary, while on the other side, us "afters" were leaving with our eco bags which would certainly be reused to carry organic produce bought from local growers.
With this in mind, I walked across the park swinging my green cloth bag and went to into another bunker-like self-actualizing plant. In the Whole Foods checkout line I was besieged with eco-bags for sale. Emblazoned with sanctimonious witticisms like "I saved the earth today, what did you do?" and "Paper or Plastic? Neither!" except, wait a minute, yes, these thick piles of bags actually seemed to be coated in some sort of all-weather tarp-grade plastic. I thought of all of the bags I had at home. (I actually have a bag full of bags.) Nylon, cotton, leather, woven bamboo fiber. How many resources, I wondered, did it take to create all of these? And what if I got one with every purchase? How many real bags equal one plastic bag?
Several days later I picked up a magazine from the same Barnes and Noble to take to the park. "Here's an eco-friendly tote for you to keep and you can put organic carrots in here and some artisanal French bread can stick out the top as you stroll a sun-dappled farmers' market with your perfect husband and baby."
"Um, I already have one." I mumbled, backing away as I stuffed the magazine into my purse. I mean, how many eco bags does one person need? I felt a little dirty and tote-less on the escalator ride up. Until I got home to my bag of bags, that is.