Tangled up in Blue: Plastic is not my bag

My car’s rear window is full of stickers. I have a few inspired by the Grateful Dead, a Settlers of Catan one, a 3022 ft. one and more.

I only have one bumper sticker, though, and it’s caused me a lot of anxiety. It says, “Plastic is not my bag,” and was a gift from a visiting friend with sustainable tendencies.

I, too, consider myself an eco-friendly person, but I must admit. Plastic was sometimes my bag.

Before the sticker, I didn’t think twice about using a plastic bag. If I remembered a reusable tote, great, if not, no big deal. Either way, I was walking out of the grocery store with my veggies neatly tucked into a bag, plastic or otherwise. Heck, if I had a lot of tin cans I’d even double bag.

But then, here comes this sticker and all of a sudden I’m proclaiming to the world, “Plastic is not my bag.”

Each time I rolled up to the grocery store without a reusable, I dreaded the hypocrisy of my situation.

How could I confidently put my plastic bags full of groceries into my car that is screaming, “PLASTIC IS NOT MY BAG.”?

I know I shouldn’t worry about what others think of me, but I don’t want anyone in the Safeway parking lot to have actual proof that I’m a liar!

Over time, I started to refuse the plastic. If I forgot a reusable bag, I’d stack everything in my arms or just turn around. Finally, I made the commitment and filled the back of my car with reusable bags.

Now, it’s been a year since the sticker got stuck to my bumper, the edges are peeling up and the bright colors have dulled, but the message has become mantra for me.

And, it’s had a continuing effect. Like the stickers on my rear window, my sustainable practices have grown.

I don’t remember the last time I bought a water bottle, but I do know that I would be heartbroken if anything happened to my Nalgene (also completely covered in stickers).

I’m always sure to pack in and pack out, often packing out some extra trash I found along the way.

And, the most peculiar of my new habits, I started eating an entire apple, even the core, because I was tired of having apple cores in my car and refused to toss them out the window. I don’t know if you can call that eco-friendly, though, it may just be a lazy and weird habit.

I don’t mean to tout my green practices. Actually, I could probably do more. I’m still not quite sure what the numbers on recycling mean and I can’t figure out how to compost effectively. And that car that all those stickers are on? A 1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee is not very gas efficient.

But, I’m trying, step by step. And I can’t give the bumper sticker all the credit. As I’ve explored more of my backyard, I’ve been awestruck by the natural, untouched beauty and, selfishly, I want it to stay that way.

Cities and municipalities across the Kenai Peninsula and Alaska are making taking the steps to ban plastic bags. I’m happy to live in a town that has joined the eco-friendly bandwagon and I’m hopeful that more cultural and legislative changes will happen down the line.

And, who knows, maybe by then I’ll have a newer, more gas efficient car and a fresh sticker for my shiny bumper.

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