Blog Action Day – The Good and Bad of Shopping Bags

By Mike Maddaloni on Monday, October 15, 2007 at 07:14 AM with 1 comments

Blog Action Day logoToday, October 15, 2007 is Blog Action Day. The idea is that on one day, bloggers around the world write a post on a common topic – the environment. As this is a broad topic, I decided to write something in line with the capitalist theme of The Hot Iron. I will recount 2 stories of extremes in retail shopping bags and packaging.

The Good

On a trip to Amsterdam, my lovely wife and I stayed with our friend, and after a day of sightseeing we decided to pick up some snacks for when our friend got home. We stopped at a Dirk van den Broek, a Dutch chain of grocery stores. After selecting an assortment of meats, cheeses and breads, we proceeded through the checkout. Noticing no clerks were bagging groceries, my wife went ahead to bag them as I paid. One problem – no bags! It was not that they were out of bags, they simply did not have them at all.

A quick glance around the store saw everyone else but us with their own bag or basket, collecting their purchases and heading for the exit. We did not have far to go, so we pulled our shirts up, filled them with our purchases and headed for our friend’s home. When she arrived, we told her our story to her amusement. She told us everyone usually carries a bad or basket when grocery shopping, especially at Dirk's.

The Bad

photo of J. Crew shopping bag and packagingEarlier this summer my wife came home and couldn’t wait to show me the new pair of flip-flops she got at J. Crew. As she unwrapped and pulled them out of the bag to show me, she met my look of shock and awe. Where she initially thought I disapproved of her purchase, my issue was not with what she bought, it was how the store clerk packaged it for her almost one mile trip home.

The accompanying picture shows the amount of packaging J. Crew felt was necessary for a US$10 pair of flip-flops. The footwear was wrapped in several layers of white tissue paper, sealed with a J. Crew label. This was placed in a boutique-style shopping bag with a rope handle. The purchase receipt was folded and inserted in a heavy paper envelope, probably in the unlikely event the name of the store was not recognized on the receipt itself. All of this preparation was done before my wife could have asked them not to do so.


Many times we as individuals find it hard to see how we can make a difference on large issues such as the environment. Making incremental, economic steps is one way to make a personal difference and influence those around us.

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