Did you hear? Starting May 4, single-use plastic bags will be banned from stores, restaurants, and other establishments in New Jersey.
This means when you buy something at a grocery store, convenience store, or other retail outlets they can't give you a bag for your stuff.
If you're thinking, "Well, I'll just use their paper bags," think again. Remember when they always use to ask "paper or plastic?"
Great idea, except that New Jersey has also decided to ban the use of paper bags in most grocery stores.
So, if you're thinking, "I'm screwed," you're pretty much right.
From now on, when you go to the grocery store, you have to bring your own bags - or be ready to buy one.
So, what will you do?
Lucky for you, you have me, Joe Kelly! You see, I often grocery shop in Somers Point - where the city has had a plastic bag ban in place for a couple of years now. So, really, I've had a head start!
The first thing you should know is that if you show up to the store without a bag, you can get a bag. The store will gladly sell you one. Or ten. Or whatever. I often shop at Shoprite in Somers Point - and I can tell you they sell cloth/plastic/some sort of material bags for, usually, $.99 cents each. They also sell heavier-than-one-use plastic bags for even less. So, good news, you won't be on an island. (I have seen people not use bags at all. They throw everything in their grocery cart and then empty their grocery cart into their car's trunk. That's a lot of work!)
Once this ban starts, you'll need a plan of action.
I recommend purchasing a set of bags from your favorite grocery store and using them each time you go shopping.
Good plan, right? Well, here's how it has worked for us:
We go to the store, buy groceries, buy bags, load them in the car and head home.
At home, we unpack the groceries and then fold the bags neatly and place them in our kitchen pantry.
The next time we go shopping, we pull into the lot, jump out of our car, start walking into the store and one of us says, "We forgot the bags!" So, we buy groceries, buy more bags and head home.
Once home, we fold the new bags up, put them in the pantry with the other bags, and put the groceries away.
Prior to the next shopping trip, we remember the bags before we leave, get them out, and put them on the kitchen counter.
When we get to the store, one of us says, "We forgot the bags!" We remember that now they're not in the pantry, but sitting on the kitchen counter. So, more groceries and more bags.
This time when we get home, we unload the groceries and then smartly pack the new bags right in my car for our next grocery run.
Now the next time, we arrive in the store's parking lot and one of us says, "We forgot the bags again!" We remember that we put the bags in my car, but we realize that we forgot that point when we used my wife's car to drive to the store. So -- more groceries and more bag purchases.
Adding up, it's 4 trips to the store, and we're now the proud owner of 36 like-new not-single-use grocery bags!
Eventually, we figure this thing out, and remember to take the bags with us. (The only thing is we don't want to take ALL the bags with us, so we just grab some. We always end up one bag short, so we have to buy another one.)
As time goes by, we start to figure this thing out and stay on the ball with the bags.
Six months later, I notice something, though: we're running out of bags. How does this happen?
Well, eventually everyone in the house starts using the bags for other things - "We have so many!" Once again, we're forced to buy more bags.
If it seems like a merry-go-round of bags - it is! All of a sudden, your life is about grocery bags!
So, get ready for fun, New Jersey. Fun!
(By the way, what are you going to use from now on to clean up after the dog? Good luck with that!)