Paper or plastic?

I need to talk about plastic bags.

True confession: About twice a week I take the 16 plastic bags (usually doubled) that they give me at the store to carry home my dozen or so items — and I use them to pick up dog poop and line wastepaper baskets and whatnot — and then I throw them away, feeling pretty righteous that I reused them, if I think about it at all.

As I drove off the Bolivar Ferry on Sunday, I was immediately struck by the cotton field to my left — a vast expanse of stick-like shrubbery with balls of white on thousands and thousands of its tips.

Then I saw the same “cotton balls” stuck to each barb of barbed wire and atop each fencepost and I realized I was looking at an environmental debacle. You see, the wood from the furniture, buildings, and pulverized trees will mulch itself into the ground. But what I was seeing — what I now see everywhere I go — are plastic shopping bags that will NOT mulch, will NOT break down, but will hang there like so many plastic flags until somebody comes along and picks them all up — all 20 million or so of them.

Plastic "cotton balls"

Plastic “cotton balls”Who’s going to do that? A chain gang?

It’s paper for me from here on out. I apologize for being so slow on the uptake.


Copyright © 2009 Alice Melott

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  1. #1 by amelott on December 24, 2008 - 3:44 pm

    From Louise Burnett in Florida:

    Are we nuts?????? Or just unconscious?

  2. #2 by Annabelle on December 28, 2008 - 2:50 pm

    I think both nuts and unconscious and totally ignorant… In France and other country in Europe plastic bags are not given anymore. You bring your own bags. And if you don’t bring bags and need to get plastic, you have to buy the plastic bags! 🙂

  3. #3 by Alan Morlan on December 28, 2008 - 9:54 pm

    Bravo on giving up plastic. I have a squadron of the Kroger recyclable shopping bags that go with me everywhere (insert bag lman joke here:) I still have my Petsmart plastic pooh bags, is there a better way?

    Have a Divine ’09
    alan morlan

  4. #4 by Holly on February 20, 2009 - 1:31 pm


    I’ve been using canvas shopping bags for a few years now everywhere I shop. I no longer get the odd looks, which is nice. It’s actually quite fun because you can get bags that are so cute nowadays.

  5. #5 by Ali on October 30, 2012 - 10:39 pm

    Alice – I live in Denton and have come to Galveston several times a year for over 30 years. I love Galveston – it has a very deep and special place in my heart. On the fifth day the ferries first began service again after Ike, I drove on to the Bolivar Peninsula and saw the plastic bags. That was the last day I have ever used a plastic bag – from the grocery, the drugstore, any store. I bought some heavy duty ones in Kauai and have since used them for everything. Everything – period. Sorry it took Ike to make me see the light.

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