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Do you steal bags from the supermarket?


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Admit it: when you go shopping, you grab a few extra produce bags, or brown paper or plastic shopping bags, or twist ties. This is the place to fess up about your kleptomaniac supermarket habits.

I'll start. I used to be a minor offender. Up until 2001, I would only take bags that were technically earmarked for the groceries I was buying. This was mostly an efficiency thing: I wouldn't bag a lot of my produce at the store, but later I might bag it for efficient division at home.

Then we got a dog. Well, you need a lot of bags when you have a dog in the city. It's just the reality. So I would grab a few extra bags each week.

Then we had a baby. You get the idea.

Yes, I know I could buy bags. But we're talking about mental illness here.

Tell all.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Well for the most part the plastic bags in our grocery stores are simply not worth stealing! They are flimsy, often more holey than religious, and they simply fill up the landfill sites. Now I take my own re-useable bags and even carry a string bag in my purse for those little errands.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

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I've found the plastic bags to be great can liners for the smaller garbage cans around the house.

I take more back to recycle than I keep however. Hubby can't stand the clutter, and they tend to reproduce in the night, somehow... :blink:

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I never steal! Nor do I taste test produce.

I do however try to bag my groceries myself in as few paper/plastic combo bags as possible and I store half the plastic bags in the bathroom closet to empty the wastecan into on Sunday afternoon before I put the trash out that night. The other half go into the bag caddy on my pantry door.

Wawa Sizzli FTW!

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If I'm buying fish in hot weather, I'll take a plastic produce bag and fill it with ice from the soft drink dispenser and make a little ice-pack to keep the fish cold. But that's not stealing, it's protecting my investment.

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This is a sign of how out of balance things are in today's world. I never have to steal bags because I am a saver & accumulate more than we can possibly re-use.

As annecros noted, they tend to breed.

It's gotten to the point where I refuse bags at the store if I can carry my purchases out to the car. I suppose I should become a tote bag person but people stare at you.

We need a system that makes it easy for people who have too many bags to get them into the hands of those who have too few. Maybe we already do; maybe it's called the USPS. Anybody who needs once-used grocery bags, PM me your address & I'll send you a box. I can throw in some produce bags too (yes, I save those as well if they weren't carrying icky stuff).

Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

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Actually, were I live the plastic supermarket bags reproduce in vacant lots. They must self propagate at night because every day there are more and more of them blooming on the branches of the purple sage. They are so abundant we should figure how to convert them to fuel - we could wean ourselves off imported oil. Except olive oil of course.

Jmahl

The Philip Mahl Community teaching kitchen is now open. Check it out. "Philip Mahl Memorial Kitchen" on Facebook. Website coming soon.

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I've never had the urge to take extra bags. I usually have too many around the house, though I do use them as bathroom can liners. Last year, I started using reusable bags, but I still have a small pile of plastic ones from random spots when I don't have my own.

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We grocery shop three times a week. We end up with more than we need.

They're perfect for our kitchen trash.

gallery_39290_4300_8589.jpg

Yes, I know I could buy bags. But we're talking about mental illness here.

Tell all.

FatGuy, mental illness is this:

My wife has me fold the bags before putting them away.

gallery_39290_4300_8467.jpg

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I used to fixate on the extra thick clear plastic bags that the supermarket provided for veggies. If you split them down the seams, they're great for rolling out sticky doughs. But then my pastry skills improved, and I no longer needed the bags, so I stopped collecting them.

However, sometimes people leave clean, unused plastic bags in otherwise empty shopping carts in the parking lot. I cannot pass up those plastic bags. I just can't. But the way I view it, if I didn't take those bags, they would just blow around from the wind and create more litter and pollution in the world. So I'm doing a good deed.

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No, I don't steal extra bags. If I had a pet, I'd be saving the plastic bags that are beyond redemtion for The Leavings. I'm the person who reuses paper bags for trash. A pastic bag in the trash can? No way. It's easy enough to clean out a trash can. Earth mother here. I am the one who embarrasses my kids by bringing in old pastic bags to the grocery and farmer's market for the produce. I use reusable tote bags at the super and farmer's markets. I also compost and recycle with a vengenace, figuring that reuse is even better than recycling.

I've of the opinion that purchasing plastic hefty trash bags is the ultimate scam. They have you purchasing something for the express and only purpose of throwing it away. Like tossing money out of the window. And, I have to think that my local grocery stores figure the cost of the number of bags they use into the markup on groceries.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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I'm always offered paper or plastic where I shop and opt for plastic. After a month or two I have a gross excess of leftover bags and take them back to the store to leave in the bag recycling bin.

But I do on occasion grab a handful of paper bags to take home - no more than the number I would have gotten if I'd insisted in paper inside of plastic as my initial bag option (and yes - people do that). I use the paper bags foe recycling my newspaper, magazine, junk mail etc so I don't have to keep yet another plastic recycling bin in the house.

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Here in rural PA we can burn. So I ask for paper bags, then we put paper trash in that and burn it out in our 'burn barrel' at the end of the week. I have the pullout trash in my cabinet that holds 2 trash cans-nice and tidy.

I also use the plastic bags for small trash bins in the bathrooms.

Can't you just buy one of those rolls of vegetable bags pretty cheap? Or are we talking just the bigger plastic bags at the checkout.

Jennifer

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Get 'em while you can. The city of San Francisco has banned (or is in the process of banning) plastic grocery bags. There's a local idiot who is also trying to push the same ban through here. I end up either recycling my leftover grocery bags or re-use them to carry in my haul from Costco (since Costco is too cheap to provide plastic bags for their customers :angry: ).

When I visit my mom and we go grocery shopping, I'll snag extra twist ties for her. No harm, no foul. :wink:

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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Somewhat guilty. I miss Whole Foods most (since my self-imposed boycott) because their paper bags were great for recycling newspapers and magazines. And since I usually help bag my groceries, I double-bag everything in plastic. I need the extras for walking the doggie.

My wife has me fold the bags before putting them away.

Chefcrash, are we going to see instructions for this on the next installment of Martha Stewart? :laugh:

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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I just make sure I get 1 or 2 paper bags a week to empty the vaccume cleaner cup into when its dog hair removal day. I cant just tip the cup into the trash can because its got a big rounded swing cover to keep the dogs out of it. And I cant take the cover off because the plastic bags are too small and need the cover to hold them up....so here we are back at plastic bags.

tracey

we dont have to walk the dog she uses the front yard

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Get 'em while you can. The city of San Francisco has banned (or is in the process of banning) plastic grocery bags. There's a local idiot who is also trying to push the same ban through here.  I end up either recycling my leftover grocery bags or re-use them to carry in my haul from Costco (since Costco is too cheap to provide plastic bags for their customers  :angry: ).

When I visit my mom and we go grocery shopping, I'll snag extra twist ties for her. No harm, no foul. :wink:

There will soon be no plastic grocery bags anywhere. They have been banned in Santa Cruz, too. Just have to start reminding ourselves to bring our bags back when we shop.

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Too many plastic bags are overflowing the HUGE wall-hung bag in the pantry/laundry room. Our grocery has handy hanging rolls above the produce, set there like the valances on Miss Scarlett's portieres, and I wind off a great long stole of bags, wrapping them around my neck. As I choose and bag, I tear off each one in turn, til the babyseat is overflowing with poufy tops spouting above the lemons and avocados and tomatoes shining through the thin plastic.

Then, the meat department, where little floor posts hold vertical rolls for those pesky leaking trays of chicken parts, pork chops, and icy naked birds. The mental illness on my part comes in trying to get each tray situated just SO in the bag, the price scan facing the clear side of the plastic, though I KNOW that little old magnetic thing can read through walls, if necessary. Two like items are set back-to-back, as I try to position the barcode as well as possible between the bits of green writing.

And at checkout, my worst bit of brainburn comes when they say "Paper or Plastic?" Though there are signs blaring everywhere touting the use of paper and the evils of plastic, I say "Plastic." Then the compulsion comes to blurt the same mantra I say every week, "If your paper bags had handles, I'd use paper. I have to carry the groceries up the steps and down a flight of stairs to get to the kitchen, and with paper, I can carry only one bag at a time." Do I really think that's going into the cashier's head as she peeps the items past the sentry? Do I think she cares?

Nope, and I say it anyway, to assuage this need-to-excuse. She could care less if I requested FIVE bags per item---she's not bagging the stuff. And still I choose plastic, still I explain.

No dogs, no diapers, no need for the flimsy produce bags. They go into the trash, wadded into the space of a peanut or stuffed down the also-nondegradable Dr. Pepper bottles which make up part of our garbage. The nice thick white ones are for saving, for all sorts of uses---birdcage cleanouts, for carrying lunches or snacks, and all the other quick-carry needs.

We used to live in a papermill town, and we got used to the permanently-stationed mill workers who seemed to take turns standing at the checkouts, chastising any and all who dared to choose plastic over paper. A long litany of paper's virtues and jobs for the locals and the evils of plastic drowned out the muzak on many a shopping trip, and the picket lines outside WalMart were a constant gauntlet to be run on every visit. :sad:

I'd rather have paper---I like a neat array of them slotted between the freezer's side and the baking-pan rack. They're handy for lining cake pans, for draining fish and hushpuppies, for dredging chicken to fry. Something about that fold-down and shake, with its little cloud of flour emerging as the folds are unfurled, reminds me of cooks in my past, and the repetition of such an age-old ritual rounds out the generations, somehow, in a very satisfying way.

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Too many plastic bags are overflowing the HUGE wall-hung bag in the pantry/laundry room.  Our grocery has handy hanging rolls above the produce, set there like the valances on Miss Scarlett's portieres, and I wind off a great long stole of bags, wrapping them around my neck.  As I choose and bag, I tear off each one in turn, til the babyseat is overflowing with poufy tops spouting above the lemons and avocados and tomatoes shining through the thin plastic.

Then, the meat department, where little floor posts hold vertical rolls for those pesky leaking trays of chicken parts, pork chops, and icy naked birds.  The mental illness on my part comes in trying to get each tray situated just SO in the bag, the price scan facing the clear side of the plastic, though I KNOW that little old magnetic thing can read through walls, if necessary.  Two like items are set back-to-back, as I try to position the barcode as well as possible between the bits of green writing. 

And at checkout, my worst bit of brainburn comes when they say "Paper or Plastic?"    Though there are signs blaring everywhere touting the use of paper and the evils of plastic, I say "Plastic."    Then the compulsion comes to blurt the same mantra I say every week, "If your paper bags had handles, I'd use paper.  I have to carry the groceries up the steps and down a flight of stairs to get to the kitchen, and with paper, I can carry only one bag at a time."  Do I really think that's going into the cashier's head as she peeps the items past the sentry?  Do I think she cares?

Nope, and I say it anyway, to assuage this need-to-excuse.  She could care less if I requested FIVE bags per item---she's not bagging the stuff.  And still I choose plastic, still I explain.

No dogs, no diapers, no need for the flimsy produce bags.    They go into the trash, wadded into the space of a peanut or stuffed down the also-nondegradable Dr. Pepper bottles which make up part of our garbage.  The nice thick white ones are for saving, for all sorts of uses---birdcage cleanouts, for carrying lunches or snacks, and all the other quick-carry needs.

We used to live in a papermill town, and we got used to the permanently-stationed mill workers who seemed to take turns standing at the checkouts, chastising any and all who dared to choose plastic over paper.  A long litany of paper's virtues and jobs for the locals and the evils of plastic drowned out the muzak on many a shopping trip, and the picket lines outside WalMart were a constant gauntlet to be run on every visit. :sad:

I'd rather have paper---I like a neat array of them slotted between the freezer's  side and the baking-pan rack.  They're handy for lining cake pans, for draining fish and hushpuppies, for dredging chicken to fry.  Something about that fold-down and shake, with its little cloud of flour emerging as the folds are unfurled,  reminds me of cooks in my past, and the repetition of such an age-old ritual rounds out the generations, somehow, in a very satisfying way.

Brilliant post, Rachel.

When they ask me paper or plastic I'm dumbfounded. I've just been through a maze of decisions, low fat no fat, 32 portions or 84 ounces, carb free card laden, sugar free, splenda, aspartame, trans fat free, 3 apples, 4 apples, 12 oz bag of spinach or 16 oz, dozen eggs or 18 brown white, pateurized, cooped up not cooped up, salt or not salt in my butter or Smart Balance or margarine or vegetable spread. There are multi fricking colored Goldfish crackers, preztel goldfish, cheddar goldfish, baby goldfish or giant goldfish, 100 calorie pack or regular size, flavor blasted, cinnamon or chocolate graham raging out of contol pirahna goldfish.

By the time I get to the checkout. I probably can't tell you my address much less decide paper plastic debit credit check put the coins in first or the gold fish will get you. I just say "Surprise me".

But no I don't steal bags from the grocery (nor diapers from the hospital. But confession is good for the soul :raz: ). Now I will get everything paid for and almost walk out of the store holding something I forgot to put on the counter to pay for. It's the dang cane though. It makes you a one-handed shopper so you're always kinda sticking stuff here & there. And you can't pry your elbows away from your body because you'll drop something and how you gonna pick it up with the stick in the way.

So far I haven't been arrested. But Fat Guy, how do you handle jewelry store visits??? :laugh:

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I don't really take extra bags from the store, but I definitely would grab a few of the paper bags w/handles if the need arose. Good idea for the doggie waste, but we moved to a neighborhood last year that has a biodegradable plastic poo-bag dispenser about every hundred yards or so along the walking trail. I DO grab extras down there and keep them in the car, although the Parks Dept. is pretty good about keeping them stocked. I could see the plastic produce bags coming in handy too.....

Jerry

Kansas City, Mo.

Unsaved Loved Ones

My eG Food Blog- 2011

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I request plastic instead of paper unless I will only end up with one bag of groceries. I have to unload the car by myself and would have to make 20 trips if I had paper.

I do try to get multiple uses from the plastic bags. I use them to clean out the cats litter box, I take them when I walk the dog, line the small trash cans with them and always slide packages of meat that I am thawing into them before placing in the frig (this has saved me many messes).

I think paper is great for specific tasks and I always save paper bags when I get them. Nothing is better for draining fried food.

When I am in a grocery store where I have to do my own bagging, I don't really steal bags, i just tend to double bag more things. :raz:

Preach not to others what they should eat, but eat as becomes you and be silent. Epicetus

Amanda Newton

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Come to think of it...whenever my mom was running low on her stash of plastic produce bags, during the next trip to the grocery store she'd bag apples (or what have you) individually. Yes, she got looks from the checker, but her suppply of plastic produce bags never ran low. :rolleyes::laugh:

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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No, I don't steal extra bags.  If I had a pet, I'd be saving the plastic bags that are beyond redemtion for The Leavings.  I'm the person who reuses paper bags for trash.  A pastic bag in the trash can?  No way.  It's easy enough to clean out a trash can.  Earth mother here.  I am the one who embarrasses my kids by bringing in old pastic bags to the grocery and farmer's market for the produce.  I use reusable tote bags at the super and farmer's markets.  I also compost and recycle with a vengenace, figuring that reuse is even better than recycling.

Ditto on bringing along reusable bags. Extra perk is the 5 cents per bag I get discounted from my grocery bill :smile:.

Kathy

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all. - Harriet Van Horne

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I think we should all send Fat Guy our extra bags so that he can turn from his life of crime. :biggrin:

:laugh:

Probably will take a little more than that. <dropping my voice and looking around to be sure the coast is clear> I'm thinking more along the lines of an intervention. :raz:

But umm, I missed some Goldfish cracker choices. There's normal flavored Goldfish, and there's at least four different package sizes. But then not every store carries all the choices either so we just have to do the best we can with what we have. :rolleyes:

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