BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag): Going Green on LBI

By PATTY KELLY | Aug 28, 2019

“Going Green” is definitely the theme of the Island this year, though it really started last year with BYOB, meaning “Bring Your Own Bag.” What did you think it meant?

Well, BYOB seems to have a multi-usable abbreviation now on LBI, which is a good thing. “Going Green” takes a lot of remembrance and patience, I believe. First, you need to remember to bring the recyclable shopping bag with you in the car or whatever your mode of transportation. Next, you need to remember to actually bring the bag into the store with you. Why is it when you get to the supermarket you always tend to forget all those recyclable shopping bags you have in the back of your car or sitting right on the seat next to you?

This situation is what has prompted me to put a plastic container filled with recyclable shopping bags next to my garage door with a sign on it that says, “Don’t forget a shopping bag.” It is just another reminder for me and a way to share with others when needed.

Since the inception of the recyclable shopping bag, I have made a habit of accumulating a stockpile of them, which now all reside not only in the plastic container I mentioned, but also all over the back of my car. I believe I may share the next statement with many others. I tend to go into the store for a few items only to leave with a shopping cart full of things I don’t need or didn’t know I ever needed except for the peanut butter Snickers bar, which appears to have become a necessity in my old age.

Which brings me to the question of why there are no more handbaskets at the local Acme store, or at least very few of them. I asked one of the managers the other day where all the handbaskets were. She kindly responded by saying, “Because most of the people forget a shopping bag, they seem to be taking a handbasket with them, we think.” If you happen to have one that somehow landed in your car, please bring it back … no questions asked!

This leads me to the heart of my story. The other day I was about to meet a friend at a local watering hole for a quick “one (or two) and done” when I noticed a young man struggling on a bike with two paper-handled shopping bags and a bike basket full of additional groceries. One of the paper bag handles had broken, scattering his groceries all over the pavement. The other paper bag, which was holding a bunch of cold beers, was also on its way to breaking at the bottom, which as we all can imagine would be a disaster, as I am most certain he would be needing one of those after this episode was over.

As I observed him cursing under his breath, I noticed the shattered salsa jar that had splattered the actual salsa all over some groceries. I began to pass him when I quickly turned around and said, “If you wait here, I’ll run back to my car. I have some recyclable shopping bags that I can give you.” The look of anguish and then release on his face was priceless. I was sure he had gone into the market for that one or two items (why else would he have ridden a bike to the market?) when he suddenly began adding more than what he needed to his shopping basket.

I grabbed several of my recyclable shopping bags, knowing they would most likely not be returned, which was just fine with me. My car was so littered with them I had needed to purge some anyway. Being the mom that I am, I told him I’d help him pack his bags so that he could fit everything back into them properly. I noticed several items that were additionally splattered with the salsa. He started mumbling under his breath again, telling me that the only reason he bought the salsa was because his girlfriend wanted him to buy tortilla chips. He then picked up the items (not the chips) and tossed them right into the trash along with the shattered salsa jar.

I was able to repack all his items in the plastic recyclable bags without a problem. The gratitude in his eyes and smile was more than I needed to know my job there was done. He thanked me profusely and as I walked away, he yelled out to me, “Wow! Now I’m so balanced I can hold everything without a problem and ride my bike!” The proud young man then pedaled away happily.

This brings me back to my idea that I wanted to share. Let’s have a spot at the supermarket doors that allows people like me with an overfill of recyclable shopping bags to place them for others to use. It would be like one of those places they have for used books, where you can take a book and leave a book. This may also solve the mystery of the missing handbaskets that have almost all disappeared from the stores. I am definitely more than happy to share with others what feels like a thousand recyclable shopping bags in the back of my car.

Patty Kelly lives in Blue Bell, Pa., and Beach Haven Park.



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