On New Years Day, we bring you another installment of our series focusing on personal resolutions Sustainable Newton Board members are making for 2020 to increase our efforts to live more sustainable lives with less negative impact on our planet and those who will inhabit it when we are gone.
By Julius J. Hayden, Sustainable Newton Treasurer & Lois Upham, Sustainable Newton Board Member
As some of my friends know, I have been on a crusade to raise awareness of the problems caused by plastic bags used to collect and transport our purchases. I am an old man and don’t mind playing the “ole’ geezer” card to make a point and perhaps change a mind -- if not, then raise awareness -- of the dangers of plastic endemic in our environment.
Almost without exception, I ask every clerk and bagger if they can tell me the source material for plastic bags. (It's petroleum or natural gas.) I go on to tell them, especially the young ones, that they will someday tell their grandchildren “we used to give away plastic bags by the handful, and that if they just had some of those bags now, how lucky they would be.” (Shades of back-to-the-future.)
From these informal surveys, I estimate less than 1% of those subjected to my question and wild prophesy have correctly answered my question. Mind you, I pose my questions to clerks and baggers at every checkout at every store that stuffs thing into plastic bags.
I regard my unusual behavior as a form of education. You might recall in many instances we best remember answers to questions we missed on tests, so...
In order to avoid being a total hypocrite, I do my utmost to always bring one or more reusable bags with me for carrying home purchases. We even have a bag to hold our shopping bags; one in each of our cars. I have been known to leave the checkout line to go back to our car to retrieve forgotten bags. (I used to bring our bag-of-bags into the grocery store, until one bagger put the bag into a plastic bag and handed it back to us! I had to explain how non-plastic bags worked.)
We try to lead by example by entering the checkout line ready with our reusable bags and have been pleased to find many stores have for sale a variety of bags made from recycled plastic, bags that are thermally insulated, and substantial square cornered “totes” that can hold and support three-gallon water jugs.
My new year’s resolution is to soldier on as the Johnny Appleseed of bags, spreading the word to save the planet – one reusable bags at a time. Always with the steadfast support of my wife, Lois Upham, who puts up with my embarrassing antics, but has been bringing her own bags to stores longer than I have.