31 July 2007
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.