The Quest For The Holy Tote Bag

All right now. Everybody needs to slow down just a little. Someone please tell me what it is with all these tote bags. And no one better tell me that we are saving the planet with these canvas marvels, because the opposite is true. I realize, this is the point where I get in trouble with the environmentalists, but before you come at me with torches and pitchforks, let me explain.

Let’s start at the beginning. I could start at the end, which would shorten things considerably. I might open with, “It’s certainly worth thinking about,” and just stop writing. Now I certainly would never argue about this being a great ending, but it does lack something. The thing is, if I do this, the message seems to get lost somehow. It’s just not as fulfilling as if I had started at the opening and then proceeded to the end. So, it’s decided, I will start at the start. Actually, I won’t. You see the start was two paragraphs ago. Therefore, in reality I am starting in the middle. It’s not the optimal place to begin, but still better than starting at the end. Now, where was I? Ah, yes: planet Earth.

Tote-bags have been around for a long, long time. There is obscure evidence in Egyptian tombs saying they were employed to transport canopic jars from embalmer to pyramid. More recently, they were used to bring stuff home from the market before thin plastic ones were invented. The plastic ones had the benefit of being less sturdy while at the same time thin enough to see through. No longer could a man hide the fact he was bringing home his hidden stash of snacks. And if he did manage to get his stuff into the house unseen, the handle would break and the stuff would be all over the floor. Quite the scientific advancement. NOT! The thing is, we humans of this world are so dopey that we cast aside the good and embraced the horrible. Cheap plastic bags became all the rage. I even had people ask me why I chucked them in to the trash and didn’t save them as if the were made of gold. Yes, they are useful, but when you get seventeen a week and use one, they tend to pile up.

During those dark years tote-bags actually became a running joke. If you donated a billion dollars to NPR you could get a tote-bag. YEA! (You’ll have to imagine the raucous laughter.) But then the paradigm shift. (Do you like the snazzy word?) Since thin plastic bags take about ten bazzilion years to decompose in a landfill, and the rats choke on them, (gotta protect those rats), somebody figured out that tote-bags were reusable. In reality, they always were. In fact, rumor has it tomb raiders carried them to haul out pharaoh’s gold. Though this has not been proven. Anyway, this non-discovery led to a golden age of totes. I believe scientists call it the Cari-Aroundus Era. Great designers started creating bags for rich ladies with expensive tastes. Knock-offs flooded the market giving the rest of us a whiff of this great luxury. For those of us alive back then, it was a time of miracles.

But as with all good things, corruption rears its ugly head and darkness falls. Tote-bag mania reached such a fevered pitch, marketing people got involved (insert ominous music). Businesses trying to prove their environmental consciousness started giving away tote-bags, with company logos, as promos. Big box and grocery stores sold them for a dollar as sustainable alternatives to the dreaded plastic ones. Suddenly, tote-bags were everywhere. I myself have four-hundred-thirty-seven of them in my hall closet right this minute. Yes, I use them when I shop, but I only need the four biggest ones. The rest just stay folded in the closet collecting dust, and there are more coming every day. And there’s the rub: instead of plastic polluting landfills, canvas has overrun my house. Sorry for this, but given those choices I’d rather it be the landfill.

The thing is my twisted psyche won’t let me throw them away. The bags have become a symbol of saving the planet. If I toss one, I am personally killing Gaia, the Earth mother. I get the feeling of millions of people staring at me with scorn every time I even contemplate throwing out the torn ones, and they have already served their duties with honor. What am I to do? Is there a tote-bag therapist some where out there who can help in my hour of need? I’ll even accept an unlicensed one because I need help.

(Slight pause) Sorry I was gone, I’m back now.

Perhaps there might be another solution. Maybe we could form a government task force to study the problem. I’m sure after they take a few fact-finding trips to Hawaii, and the Virgin Islands, they might just come up with the Ultimate Tote. Three of them could be distributed to everyone in America so there would be no more need to get another one every time you went to a grand-opening. It could be made in the USA so it would add jobs to the economy. I wrote to my senator about this and was immediately ignored. It’s okay though. I know the folks in Washington are too busy sending nasty tweets and insulting each other, and don’t have time to actually solve problems.

So, I guess I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing until the weight of all those bags start ruining the structure of my house. Then again, I might take them all to a seamstress I know and have them converted into quilts, then I’ll donate the quilts to a local shelter. I will still be saving the planet, plus helping the homeless, and the silly things will be out of my house.

It’s certainly worth thinking about.

If you have comments, want to discuss whether shoulder straps are better than handles, or have me take a sideways view at your favorite topic. Send me an E-Mail at I’d love to hear from you!


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