A fair number of stores in Ontario have developed a policy of either charging for plastic grocery bags or giving a credit for bringing bags from home.  Those owned by Loblaws (Zehrs, Various Types of Super Store, etc.) charge $0.05 per (and the self-serve checkout asks how many bags you used.  Only in Canada would something so polite and reliant on personal honour work out so well), several others give a $0.03 discount per bag.  This is all in an effort to reduce the number of plastic bags that go into landfills and try to keep our northern bounty from turning into a polyethylene-encrusted wasteland.

You would think that there are no negatives to this but I have managed to come up with a couple (I am the cloud to every silver lining available):

1.  Waste Disposal

Okay, sure.  Plastic bags make for a fair amount of landfill.  And they tend to blow around and choke the life out of turtles:

But consider the other side of it.  How does one dispose of trash without plastic bags?  I think this is a ploy by the grocery chains to force us to buy Glad Kitchen Katchers and similar ilk.  There is a significantly higher mark up on these items than on the humble grocery bag.   In a slightly related fashion, how do we carry our lunches around?  Sure, we could buy a re-usable bag, maybe even one that’s insulated but once again, that plays into the plans of the grocery moguls.  I propose a conspiracy theory.

2.  Unemployment

All of those bags had to come from somewhere.  There are craftsmen at work behind the scenes, planing down sheets of 3” thick lucite into these humble and flexible totes.   How will the logo painters, handle drillers and folders feed their families?  What of the humble bag-boy (or bag-person as we must call them now).  This noble breed is seldom seen now that most people who bring their own bags tend to bag their own groceries.  This leads me directly to

3.  Longer Lines at the Till

On Tuesday, Amy and I were picking up a few things (including the toilet paper featured yesterday) and got in what appeared to be the shortest line available.  There was only one person in the line but he was pretty much the most incompetent self-bagger that I have ever had the misfortune to be trapped behind.  He brought all his own bags (he was re-using plastic bags from another store, in fact) and that was his only redeeming feature.  He did not push the cart through.  He did not begin bagging as things were rung through.  He paid for everything (and if payment by cheque were still accepted, I am quite sure he would have used that method) and then began the process of bagging.  I was astounded.  Amy and I have been bringing our own bags for years (well before it was fashionable.  We are so bleeding edge) so we are nearly as good as the pros at this point, but this guy was a rank amateur.  The woman in line behind us said “what, seriously?” when confronted with the spectacle of the cashier ringing through almost our entire order before he had completed his bagging.  He didn’t even have the decency to push his cart out so we could make way for the woman behind us.  I was awestruck by the whole procedure.

On the whole, I am pretty glad to live in North America where the extent of our problems is ‘man, this guy is slow in the checkout lane.’

in disguises no-one knows