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Betsy’s Corner: I’m a ‘Bag Lady’

By Betsy Huber Port

I’m a bag lady. With the new ban on single-use plastic bags around town, it is necessary to keep grocery bags in my car. I have bags of all shapes and sizes since many local Longmeadow businesses will not offer you a plastic bag anymore. At CVS you will be asked if you want a brown paper bag and at Big Y if you don’t bring your own, you will be charged 10 cents for a nice paper bag with handles. Pride Stores will not use plastic anymore either. The same goes for my favorite small grocery store called Armata’s. They have a sign when you enter: “Plastic bags are gone. Bring your own or pay 10 cents for paper.” This is a good idea but not everyone is pleased. Someone actually refused to pay 10 cents for a bag and walked out of a store!

I asked a clerk how many customers actually bring their bags, and the answer was “About ¾ of the folks bring bags.” Of course, some people forget their bags. Maybe they will bring a bag next time to reuse or buy a nice reusable Big Y bag for $2.50. This month, in August, proceeds of $1 per bag will go to The Storrs Library to benefit their programs. Every month, a new charity is named. This great program began in January and I hope it continues for a very long time. It’s called The Community Bag Program! Look out for this each month. As an extra bonus until Aug 21, Big Y will give you a second bag for free if you buy a reusable bag!

Since Aug. 1 there have been no plastic bags at Big Y. CVS led the way at both locations in mid-July. Getting a paper bag, which can easily be recycled, is better than using plastic, which can never be composted but can be reused if it doesn’t break. We all want to curb plastic pollution. Kathy Labella, a neighbor in town led the way at a Town Meeting in 2016 when our town voted to ban single-use plastic bags. San Francisco, California banned single-use plastic bags over six years ago! Now the whole State of California will ban those plastic bags. Many towns and cities across the country have joined together to ban plastic inside and out of grocery stores. Restaurants and stores have also stopped using plastic straws and gone back to the paper straws of yesteryear. There are alternatives out there to consider, and some states have banned Styrofoam. What can we do to help the environment? So many grocery items are packaged in plastic. How can we help our planet survive?

For me, I have always been a bag lady. I actually collect bags. I prefer to use insulated bags, which are both practical and useful for items such as ice cream and all frozen and refrigerated items. These bags are especially important if you are traveling a long distance from a shopping destination like Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, which, unfortunately, are not local. Try to remember to leave extra grocery bags in your car. If you walk to get your groceries, leave bags near your door so you don’t forget them when you leave.

Betsy Huber Port is a member of the Longmeadow Pipeline Awareness Group. The views expressed in Betsy’s Corner are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the Longmeadow News or Reminder Publishing LLC.