If you’re like me, you’ve got that one cupboard in your kitchen that you’re scared to open. You only go there when absolutely necessary and even then, you think twice about whether you really need the item that lies behind those doors. I’d even gotten to the point where I’d rather buy an entire new box of green scrubbies than crack that cabinet door and face what lay within. The fact is, I’d saved up enough plastic grocery-bags to stock an entire grocery store for a year. After every shopping trip, I’d stuff these crackling nuisances into one another, then squeeze the crackling wad onto an undersized shelf along with all their cousins. Once I closed the door, they were out of sight but never out of mind. I was convinced that as they co-mingle in the dark, they were also plotting against me because when they saw the light of day, they come madly rushing at me like a little kid’s soccer team, flailing wildly across the kitchen floor as they chased after my feet like it was the ball.
I never knew what to do with those annoying bags once I’d used my quota of eight for the month for scooping the cat litter box. Unlike other plastics, you can’t recycle these little annoyances and they certainly aren’t landfill friendly. So, I stashed them away like a good steward of the planet in hopes that I would run across a chance to re-purpose each plastic bag, at least once. That was 689 bags ago.
Last week, I needed three grocery bags to carry our family picnic lunch to the park. After pushing through the anxiety of opening the cabinet door, I went through the hullabaloo of freeing just few bags from the mishmash, then re-stuffing the escapees back into the cupboard. I was so frustrated with repeating this experience time and again, I decided right then I would find a different solution. I made a commitment to resolve my horrifying cupboard problem within the next week.
I love how answers magically appear whenever I commit to making a change and mine appeared that very afternoon at the park. As I was unpacking our lunch, laying out our wares on the picnic table, and yelling at the kids to chase down the now empty poly bags that blew across the grass with just a whisper of a breeze, another family was packing up across the way. Their snappy looking, bright colored cloth bags caught my eye.
They packed their two tall sacks full of their leftovers and all of their other gear. It was like a scene from Harry Potter as those totes seemed to have no end to their capacity. Tupperware, plates, glasses, silverware, blankets, Frisbees, baby toys, books and even a large soccer ball fit inside the bags. As I watched in awe, I swear, those bags spoke to me. They were colorful and had a message printed on their sides about small acts of kindness.
I felt better, happier, and kinder just watching the cheerful family make their way to their car, swinging the bags by the sturdy handles without a care in the world. I also noticed both of these wise bags had logos on imprinted on one side and I searched on the web for that company as soon as I got home.
Turns out, the website belonged to a small business in my community that helps people organize their homes, garages and offices. I was so inspired by their website, I ordered one of their online books which came with a free tote. That was my first reusable grocery bag and the beginning of the end to my plastic bag hoarding problem. I cleaned out my once scary cupboard and also started clearing the clutter out of my life. I donated all my poly bags to a farmer’s market so they could have a life after the cupboard and be reused until they were ready for the trash.
I felt good. Really good. To top it all off I decided to only collect reusable, earth-friendly bags that speak to me with inspiring messages. No longer am I afraid to open my cupboard. Instead, I look forward to selecting a tote from my newly organized collection and I’m excited about helping the planet in one small way. After all, it’s the small things that can make the biggest impact!