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As a person who cares about the environment, I finally joined the switchover to cloth bags for groceries. I won’t say I did so willingly. My biggest concern was that I’d lose my copious supply of ‘dog poop collectors’. I love the family pooches but I draw the line at scooping poop into a cloth bag. A bridge too far!

Gill, L’il Sis and Crazy D have been using cloth bags for eons (not for dog poop) since they all shop regularly at health food, hippie-type shops where plastic is the devil incarnate. My personal reluctance  was also based on the fact that I seem to carry things that are wet, messy or will stain the cloth ones, thus necessitating washing them. We all know that I hate doing laundry, even my own clothes, so what are the chances that my bags will fare any better?

I admit I do feel guilty when I throw my scuzzy bags on the grocery store checkout counter, contaminating the food of everyone behind me. Oh, the clerks see me coming and start to spray disinfectant  in my general direction, but I think being ‘fogged’ at the checkout is a bit over the top. A squirt of Purell can’t possibly counteract filth from thousands of people a day. And given that everybody throws cloth bags on the floor of their car, sets them down on dirty mudroom floors,  lets the dog walk all over them, sit on them or chew them, the situation likely calls for more than a little bacterial spray…Agent Orange comes to mind!

But, for the greater good of the planet, I switched to these dubious bags . So now the back seat of my car is filled with them. It annoys the dogs who travel in my car since there is little room left for their blankets and other accoutrements. They don’t take kindly to being crowded.

L’il Sis recently, in a gesture of kindness, took it upon herself to tidy my car…specifically the collection of bags. She left two in the car and spirited the rest away to a spot in front of the mudroom closet. Why, you might ask, are they in front of instead of inside the closet? Simple…there’s no room IN the closet. So they are now piled on top of The Pig’s old doggie bed and they spill out into the middle of the room where they can trip anyone passing through. I was grateful that L’il Sis had taken the initiative to clean the car, but the results proved less than satisfactory for me.

Case in point: I arrived at the supermarket, reached back to collect some bags and, to my dismay, discovered that my favorite bags were missing! One was my burlap bag from the local Italian deli, the ‘go to’ place in town for everything starchy, yummy, and delightfully decadent. Arriving home annoyed, I called out: “Which one of you people stole my Vincenzo’s bag?” This was not said in a pleasant tone. Hearing the anger in my voice, nobody answered.

Three days later, the bag magically reappeared in my back seat. The kids played dumb. “Oh, Mom, it was probably there all the time and you just didn’t see it!” That may have worked when they were small, but it wore thin thirty years ago. And I should also point out that, since L’il Sis works at an optometrist’s office and keeps me supplied with the best in prescription glasses, the excuse that I am blind as a bat no longer holds water…proving again that no good deed goes unpunished.

Also among the missing was a small green bag I had been given at a store in Australia. It had a kangaroo on it and I loved it. It was perfect for my weekly trip to the library. Which brings me to the real reason people like cloth bags. Unlike the lowly plastic options, the cloth ones quickly become status symbols.

Want to feel posh? A bag with the Vinny’s (poncy deli) name announces to the world that you are a person who appreciates the finer dining experience. Not for you the lowly boxes of KD or hot dogs. No, you will be serving rare cheeses and seafood delicacies.

Want to be seen as a smart, intellectual person, likely someone with advanced degrees? A bag with a top notch university logo fills the bill. Imagine the hush that falls over the line when you nonchalantly throw your Harvard bag on the counter. They KNOW you’re one of the intelligencia…not smart enough to wash your bag, but still…

Want to appear well-travelled and cosmopolitan? A bag from a foreign country works every time. Gill’s absolute favorite in this category is her City Lights bookstore bag from San Francisco, home of the beat generation of writers. She has been known to issue what amounts to an Amber Alert when it goes missing.

I may aspire to these bags but more often than not, I end up with bags that have birds or dogs plastered all over them. Or bags that everyone knows were cheap giveaways from the Dollar Store or a certain discount clothing store that shall be nameless. My lack of caring about status symbols must be a carryover from my days of shuffling three toddlers and their stuff around. Somebody was always puking, peeing, or messing themselves in a myriad of ways so I had to be prepared. Nothing about that scenario screams posh or aspirational. It just screams ‘I’m a Mom!”