Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Heatwave, shmeatwave: On insulated shopping bags

Two things. One, there is nothing grosser than shmeat. And two, a large, soft insulated shopping bag has been the hero of my summer.

I got my bag this spring at Trader Joes, thinking it would be a great road trip cooler. When I was a kid we had a massive steel Coca-Cola cooler that my parents placed strategically between my sister and me on long road trips. It provided a nice barrier but it was bulky. Actually, I bet the old cooler isn't really all that big. A piece in Vanity Fair about Mad Men mentions the difficulty prop masters have had procuring 1960-sized fruit and pastries. Everything - even apples! -  is supersized these days. Sigh. Anyway, I like that my new bag is collapsible. I can probably load up my new cooler as much as the bulletproof container of my youth, but when it's empty we can tuck it out of the way. We embarked on a 22-hour trip last month with enough scrumptious fresh food and cold drinks so that our stops were spent stretching our legs and chasing our dogs around patches of grass.

The insulated bag has gotten way more use than just that trip. I started keeping it in the car immediately after purchasing it, and realized it made a wonderful shopping bag. Now when I stock up on smoothie fruit or ice cream I don't worry about thawing issues. And since it zips closed I don't have to worry about a certain curious pup snouting around and licking everything. Also, when empty it holds all my other reusable grocery bags quite nicely.

In interesting retailer vs. consumer news, the town council in Telluride, Colorado, has been working dilligently to figure out a way to reduce usage of plastic grocery bags. Local merchants, who have opposed bans of or customer fees for paper or plastic bags, may find they're the ones left holding the bag. Council members are drafting an ordinance that would ban grocers from supplying most plastic bags and impose restrictions on the content of paper bags they are permitted to supply, requiring that they be completely recyclable, contain 100% recycled content, and contain no old-growth fiber, according to The Watch.

The seed for the ban came from a summer 2008 Telluride vs. Aspen bag challenge where the towns competed to see who could use more reusable bags. Telluride won, and combined, the two towns kept an estimated 140,000 bags out of stainless steel grocery bag storage containers.

Do your part, shoppers, and bring reusable bags to the market. Especially in Telluride, where no one needs groceries to cost more than they already do.

Read more:
The Watch Newspapers - Telluride to Impose Ban on Most Plastic Bags
abc news - Austin Weighs Plastic Bag Ban, Sparks Debate

The Aspen Times - Telluride beats Aspen in plastic bag challenge


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