... A Sour Apple Tree

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Location: Huntington, WV, United States

I'm a 37 year-old guy from Huntington, WV.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Plastic shopping bags

Cities like Seattle and San Francisco (okay, just those two, but I'm sure Portland and Eugene are working on something) have recently taken steps to either discourage or out-right ban plastic shopping bags from being used in retail locations within city limits. They say that plastic grocery bags fill up landfills and can cause damage to fish and dolphin populations if they get into the rivers, sounds, and open ocean of the the west coast.

Proponents of such legislation have, however, ignored the fact that many plastic shopping bags are recycled and find a second or third life after leaving Albertson's or QFC. I have, therefore, tasked my too-stoned-to-graduate-on-time-without-taking-D-session-classes summer interns from the Robert C. Byrd School of Blogonomics with one final project before the fall semester.

They will be testing those reusable canvas shopping bags for tasks commonly associated with old shopping bags.

Test 1--Dog Poop: Fail. Our intern reported significant design issues with the canvas bag as relating to picking up dog droppings, including conditions such as "stinky palm" and "shit under the fingernails for a week." She had to throw the bag away at the park and it likely took up for landfill space than its plastic counterpart, although the fact that the dog had just consumed a quart of expired Hot Dog Stand chili sauce may have contributed to the degree of difficulty for the intern.

Test 2--Choking Dolphins: Fail. As dolphins and other fish will often swallow plastic bags, we used a Department of Education grant to send an intern to Sea World to see if she could successfully choke a dolphin with a canvas shopping bag. First, she placed a fish in the bag and tossed it in the tanking, hoping that the dolphin would swallow it whole, but it just retrieved the fish from the bag and went about its business. Next, she tried placing the bag over the dolphin's head, but it would not stay attached, as they don't have earlobes. Finally, she tried cramming it down its blowhole but, by that point, the security guard had stopped macking on the single moms and kicked her out of the park.

Test 3--Luggage: Fail. Another intern recently delivered a paper comparing the relationship between LOLcats and the O RLY owl with that between Booker T. Washington and WEB DuBois at a conference in Washington DC, so I had him use canvas bags instead of plastic ones for packing his wet swimsuits and toiletries. As they were not water resistant, his trunks seeped water onto his souvenir tie-dye shirt from the House gift shop and, as they could not be tied-off as easily, his toothbrush spilled into some of his dirty clothes and left an embarrassing stain on the rear seam of his Express Design Studio pants that will be sure to cause giggles a' plenty at the dry cleaners.

Test 4--Storing Christmas Lights: Pass. Even though it can be kind of pricey to use these bags for Xmas light storage, they reduce knotting and tangling by some 33%.

Test 5--Huffing Glue: Fail. Too much oxygen passes through the canvas. Thank God that one didn't work; I have no idea if BrickStreet has a form for injuries caused from authorized on-the-job inhalant abuse.

Test 6--Lunch Bag: Fail. One of the interns works part-time at a construction, so I had him pack his PB & J and can of Sun Drop in an eco-friendly canvas bag from Whole Foods rather than the usual WalMart plastic jobby. He reported that his co-workers called him a "freakin' homo" and then they all agreed to vote for Butch Paugh for governor.

With only one pass, ...ASAT's interns have concluded that now is not the time for a transition to canvas shopping bags. So, whether you enjoy chokin' the dolphins or sniffing your fingers, the next time your at the store, ask them to double bage everything.

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