The Minneapolis City Council is considering a nickel tax on bags, both plastic and paper. As the fully loaded Cub Foods paper bag might say, I’m torn.
There are two kinds of paper bags: the dependable ones with stout twine handles. Cadillac bags. You get these from stores that have polite high schoolers who will take your bags to your car, put them in the trunk, jog alongside your car as you head home and then put the items in your pantry. Very nice.
The other type of paper bag has a paper handle that is attached to the bag with an adhesive made from baby tears and dog saliva, and it is guaranteed to break before you get everything in the house. The bags are slightly thicker than that brown, laminated bi-fold gas station toilet paper and rips if you load the bag with anything pointier than a loaf of bread.
Plastic bags are convenient, I guess, but I loathe them. If you put a gallon of milk in a plastic bag, it will roll around your trunk like a severed head, which is disconcerting if you already got rid of your severed heads. Didn’t I drop those off at waste recycling? Could have sworn.
Because a paper bag or a reusable tote has corners, you can build an internal structure with boxes and cans, and it behaves. A plastic bag is a means by which the 2-pound can of baked beans bounces on the bananas for the ride home.
Plus, if you live with a bag hoarder, the bag goes into the emergency bag of bags, which hangs in a closet or sits in a drawer. The bag of bags sometimes contains bags of bags; if you get the Sunday paper, the hoarder will use its capacious size for smaller bags, which are compressed with force to fit into the bigger bag, until you have a wad so dense it has its own mild gravitational pull. You can see objects on the mantel move slightly toward the closet as more bags are added.
I have asked my wife, who hoards bags: What emergency are we expecting? Will there be some edict by Caesar that all shall place every grape in the house in an individual bag and bring them unto him, that they may be counted?
“No, they’re for the dog.”
The dog will have to excrete every 10 minutes, and produce his offal in the quantity of a Thompson submachine gun on full auto, and we will still have 4,000 bags. Or does she mean “they’re for the dog” in the sense that she’s sculpting a dog out of compressed bags? I don’t want to discourage artistic creativity, but it’s going to end up the size of the Sphinx.
The problem with the totes: No one ever washes them out, so a strange biochemical slough accumulates on the bottom. It may, over generations, become sentient, and make complaining sounds when you toss in a cantaloupe. I always ask the clerk to put the receipt in the bag, so there’s a layer a half-inch thick of paper sodden in blueberry juice. But any tote enthusiast just sets aside a half-hour each week to chisel off the grot.
Here’s an idea: Instead of taxing the bags, let the stores charge 5 cents, if they wish, and use the money to subsidize reusable bags. Otherwise it seems as if they’re taxing them because jumping on the anti-plastic bandwagon provides an opportunity to collect a fresh dime here and there.
I hate to be that cynical, but it’s possible.