A few days ago, I went to a Dierbergs grocery store. It was not my local Dierbergs store. I try to avoid my local Dierbergs store when I can, because my local Dierbergs store, though filled with friendly people, stocks a ridiculously limited selection of bruised and moldy produce.
(My local Schnucks has a terrible produce section too, actually. I am convinced, in fact, that both area chains send their worst produce to my neighborhood on purpose, so as to reserve the shiniest apples and least-green potatoes for their stores in places like Chesterfield and Ladue. But that's a topic for another post.)
Anyway, this was not my neighborhood Downscale Dierbergs for the Hoi Polloi, but a fancy schmancy We Have Non-Wilty Onions sort of Dierbergs store out in West County.
Outside this store, plastered neatly to the glass between the automatic doors, there is a little sign that reads: DID YOU REMEMBER TO BRING YOUR REUSABLE BAGS? On this sign is a picture of the Dierbergs brand resuable grocery bags that are available for purchase for one dollar apiece inside the store.
When I first noticed it, several weeks ago, I thought this was a kind and clever little sign. My husband and I always remember to bring our reusable shopping bags in to the grocery store now that carrying them has become a habit, but in our early days of using them, we would often forget and leave them in the car.
It's the sort of thing that makes you think that the Dierbergs grocery chain might really be taking this whole reusable bag trend seriously. And why shouldn't they? I mean, not only are reusable shopping bags vastly better for the environment than either the paper or plastic disposable kind, but they also save stores money.
Well, tell that to the checkers and baggers at Fancy Dierbergs.
I've already become accustomed to dramatic sighs and rolled eyes from disaffected checkers when I respond to "Paper or plastic?" with "Neither, thanks! I brought my own."
And baggers! Well. Nearly every time I pull the reusable bags out of the cart, it's like I'm telling a world-class pianist to play a concerto on my son's toy xylophone, or asking a master architect to design a house for me with crayons. I'd swear the slight once caused a particularly affronted bagger to put a bunch of bananas in with two cans of tomato sauce on purpose.
And the last time I went to Fancy Dierbergs was the worst time there so far. Not only did the checker roll her eyes and sigh when my husband cheerfully replied, "Neither!" Not only did the bagger look askance at us, and then cast a rather wicked glare toward our bananas before dolefully shaking out the first of our eco-friendly bags.
No, this was not the end of our punishment for showing off as environmental goody two-shoes. Once the checker finished scanning our groceries, she completely, purposefully ignored the pile of still-unused resusable bags that the bagger had not filled yet, and put all of the rest of our groceries in disposable plastic bags, leaving half our reusables empty on the counter.
Lest my gentle reader think this anti-eco-bag attitude is unique to the workers at one local grocery chain, only two days later, when we were at that Target of St. Louis Targets, The Mecca-Target — Target of South City — where, incidentally, they also sell their own brand of reusable shopping bags — our checker, upon realizing that we had brought reusable bags, refused to bag our items entirely, and demanded that my husband bag them himself.
Seriously, people. Is it that hard to put things in a slightly different kind of bag? Of a sort your own store sells in a deliberate attempt to get more people to use them?
Clearly some sort of campaign is needed to get cashiers and baggers outside of Trader Joe's and Whole Paycheck on track with this whole saving-the-planet-and-your-store's-bottom-line business.
I imagine the surest way to fix this problem is to make reusable shopping bags so entirely commonplace, so totally unremarkable, that not even the surliest teen temp store employee would bat an eye upon seeing a customer pull them out. If everyone starts using reusables, then checkers and baggers everywhere will be forced to stop silently accusing me of being a pain-in-the-ass hippie with their eyes when I whip my eco-totes out at the register.
Therefore, I am issuing this public call: if you haven't jumped on the reusable grocery bag bandwagon yet, I urge you, for my sake, please, to purchase a set immediately and use them on your very next shopping trip.
The ego you could help save may well be mine.
(But the planet you will help save will be your own. )