31 July 2007

Bag Rant

Jeannette Langmead Illustration Sketchblog

Like any girl my age, I am obsessed with bags.

While Im at work and mistakenly make eye contact with a customer I often get asked the question, "When are you guys going to get rid of plastic bags?" See, I work for a large chain of specialty grocery stores with a pseudo environmentalist image.

The public assumes the store will get rid of plastic bags because everyone knows they significantly damage the environment. But it dawned on me, while packing organic hormone-free cow flesh into double plastic, that WFM will never ban plastic unless laws require them to. They have no financial incentive to do so.

According to sources (a 21-year-old coworker), every paper bag costs WFM 14¢. I can imagine the plastic bags cost significantly less (I dont have actual numbers because Im not an investigative reporter. Im a wannabe illustrator who works at a grocery store).

This where it gets complicated and hypocritical. WFM pushes the "bring your own bag" motto. They even refund you 5¢ for each one of your own you use. Of course, if you elect to use your own bag, rather than the costly paper bag (with handles), you save the company 9¢. "Saving the earth" is just a bonus, I guess.

And it gets more complicated still when you realize that WFM sells reusable bags, too. And these bad boys are HUGE. No, I dont mean popular and expensive, I mean space-wize. Id say they fit what you could fit in two paper bags. They're shapeless and hard to pack, but if you buy one for a dollar you save the company 23¢ each time you use it (assuming I remember to give you your 5¢ bag refund, which I hardly ever do), and you spent a buck!

So WFM wont voluntarily get rid of plastic bags because there's no money in that. But they can still claim to be eco-friendly by selling reusable bags and you know, stuff like disposable biodegradable plates wrapped in plastic.

So this is what I think about when Im at work. I'll get back to drawing now.


Dan said...

freshest fish flesh in town though, no?

josh pincus is crying said...

fight the man, sister!

Mim Stella said...

which WFM do you work in i wanna come visit. or does that sound creepy...

Jon said...

you should see how my bag campaign is going. My stickers are in every store west of the Éco... and today i will go east.

jennifer mcmahon said...

this is pretty much what i found out while working at WFM. annoying i agree.....penis.

Frederik Jurk said...

Companies NEVER do something because of the sake of doing good, and in the least painful case they do it because it will give them a positive public image. Capitalism is a evil monster.

I´d love to see you at work with this outfit, though. I had to wear one of those in our local organic store, too. We gave away free plastic bags because they had ads printed on them.

But I guess that plastic bags are peanuts compared to the whole car-centric way of life the US citizens have "achieved". Giant suburbs only exists because everybody is supposed to buy a car.

Anonymous said...

HAHAHAHA! I've often thought that myself while working. We have signs for the reusable should be a standard "reusable bag" message instead of a new sign for every different style bag we get. I feels like a lie pasting the green mission logo all over those disposable unrecycleable signs...
Gotta love marketing!

patrick said...


i like the carrot.

i envy the carrot.

ignore me in drunk and retarded.

patrick said...

arent stickers and bumper sticker made out of the same plastic as the bags that they are protesting?

and the industrial glue that adheres them, how eco friendly is that?

and the dyes used and the machines with their constructions smelting mined etc, the pollution caused by the very creation of pro green causes.

i think my head just exploded

tofusquirrel said...

reminds me of the movie "dummy" :-) ! will you be taking your paperbag puppet on dates too?

Jeannette said...

Patrick, turn off your computer, you're wasting energy.

Liz, I will totally take my puppet on dates. As soon as I figure out how to get one of those.

stfn said...

i worked for the pga wfm, ive never hated a job so much in my life.
do your self a favor and quit.