Reusable Bags are so White

The State of California just passed the first statewide ban on giving disposable plastic bags away at grocery store checkout counters. The American Progressive Bag Alliance (I LOVE their name) wants to get the law overturned in a referendum, but they’re just a bunch of plastic bag makers who want to keep making money.

I think it’s a fine law and I’m OK with bringing my reusable bags to Safeway. But — please — reusable bags are so white.

BagsI know this from going to the City Heights farmers market. It’s the closest farmers market to where I live and that’s why I frequent it. As a white man I’m definitely a racial minority there. Not complaining, just saying. The food stands are operated by a mix of Africans, Mexicans and Vietnamese who sell a lot of greens I don’t recognize. They sell raw peanuts. What do you do with raw peanuts?

There was a time when I brought reusable bags to put stuff in, but it was embarrassing. By the time I bought the fruit, or whatever it was, from the cashier she had already plucked a plastic bag from the role and put the stuff in it.

“Excuse me, but I brought my own bag.”

They would look at me, fish the fruit out of the plastic bag and give it to me to drop in my ecologically friendly tote.

Pious jerk! No, they probably weren’t thinking that. But they probably did think I was a well-heeled white man who was so sated and comfortable that he actually had time to think about what kind of bag he should bring to the farmers’ market.

Everyone at this market was carrying around food in disposable plastic bags except for the middle-aged liberals who condescend to shop there and carry their reusable bags; well-worn of course because insisting on having shiny new bags would exhibit a lifestyle that was unsustainable.

Reusable bags are way too white here, so I chose to respect the local custom. Do we need to get rid of disposable plastic bags? We don’t need to but we should, if only to prevent our planet from being covered in the damn things, which are carried by the wind like kites.

My point is that worrying about reducing the number of plastic bags in the world is a privilege of wealth. And that’s why poor immigrants who go to the City Heights farmers market aren’t concerned about it. They got bigger fish to fry.






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