In only three months plastic grocery bags will be a thing of the past across New York State, and it will cost five cents in Tompkins County for each paper bag you get at the checkout counter.  The State and County are pushing us to bring our own reusable shopping bags whenever we need groceries. No doubt we'll adapt, but there are two major issues with this plan.  The first is the most obvious: remembering to bring our own bags is a lot less convenient. 

If you take environmental issues out of the mix, the current system is the best match for human nature.  You go to the store. You get stuff. The store gives you something to carry your stuff in.  No additional activity by the shopper is required (except paying).

With the new system, you go to the store.  You get out of your car.  You say, "Oh (expletive)!!!"  You get back in your car and drive home to get your reusable bags.  Now distracted by thoughts of the extra carbon emissions you just shot into the air in order to be earth-friendly you drive back to the store.  You get out of the car.  You get a cart and start wheeling it into the store.

You say, "Oh (expletive)!!!"  You leave the cart and walk back to the parking lot, because you were so distracted by that emissions thing that you forgot your bags.

So, again, except for the environmental impact, the new system is far inferior to the old one, human nature-wise.

The second major issue is that reusable shopping bags can kill you.  In 2017 University of Arizona and Loma Linda University researchers found in a random sampling of reusable bags shoppers brought into grocery stores, that almost 50% contained coliform bacteria and 12% tested positive for E. Coli.  They also found that meat juice leaking into the bags grew bacteria tenfold when left in the car for two hours. I believe the word that best describes all this is "ew".

So now you have to add regularly washing your reusable bags to an already awful system, and the new system is even worse.

Paper bags are both recyclable and they break back down without harming the environment, or at least they should.  And many disposable products are being made of vegetables and potatoes these days, so if paper is too harmful, then maybe there is a market for someone to make potato-based grocery bags so we can go back to the old system,which works great and takes human nature into account.

And how great would those bags be if we could put them in a pot of water after we put our groceries away, add some onions and celery and make potato soup!