Save The Plastic Trees

Ever since I learned that Americans go through 80 billion–yes, 80 BILLION–plastic bags per year, I’ve tried to limit my consumption of them. More times than not, refusing a plastic bag when making a purchase leaves the checkout person dumbfounded.

I hope that someday not taking a bag will be commonplace, and not send members of the retail workforce into paroxysms of confusion. However, in the meantime, there’s something I often say to the checkout person as a oblique way of explaining my actions, “Save the plastic trees.”

Last week I was at a baseball game in Yankee Stadium. I went to the gift shop to pick up something for my son. The man in the checkout line ahead of me was buying his young son a Derek Jeter T-shirt. As the cashier went to place the shirt in a bag, the man refused the bag and said, “Save the plastic trees.”

Now it was my turn to be dumbfounded. “Did you just say, ‘Save the plastic trees?’” I asked the man.

“Yes, I did,” he said.

“That’s what I always say,” I replied.

We acknowledged our mutual coolness, and that was pretty much the end of our conversation. He smiled, collected his kid and his T-shirt, and went back to the game. A few moments later, I did the same. With no bag. Of course.

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