The Bagging Paradox

I’ve ranted about this before, so you may want to skip it if it starts to sound familiar.

If you own, manage, run, work at, or are at all involved in the operation of a grocery store, however, THIS POST IS FOR YOU.

When I forget to bring my reusable, earth-friendly shopping bags, and take my groceries home in plastic bags, I rarely get a plastic bag with more than 3 or 4 items in it. The last 3 or 4 items to cross the scanner frequently get their own bags.

If this were about tensile strength, that would be one thing. But I’m talking about cotton balls getting their own bag, rather than being tucked in with the 2 bags of chips. It is not unusual for me to end up with 10 or 12 or 14 bags, all of which I can carry at one time because none of them have anything heavy.

What a waste!

[I can count on one hand the number of times a with-it bagger or checker has put eggs in a bag, then added a loaf of bread, bunch of parsley, and clutch of parsley. That’s right! Bread and parsley won’t break the eggs!! I refrain from hugging or kissing them, but really, I get just about that excited.]

If, however, I buy the same groceries and hand my reusable bags over to the checker or bagger, suddenly everything goes in one bag. If I have 5 bags, I get maybe 2 filled to the brim, nearly unliftable, with 2 empties tucked back in the top and one straggler item lolling around in a giant bag by itself.

I’m talking 5-pound bags of flour and sugar bagged along with 2 gallons of soy milk and 5 or 6 canned goods and a bag of (squished) grapes.

I’m there to shop, people, not to do squats or lunges while moving the stuff from the cart to car to house. And I brought 5 bags for a reason.

Grocery store managers, cashiers, baggers—I implore you. Think strategically. Assess the situation, count the bags, and pack accordingly. Pack as though you were going to be walking home with these groceries. Think about weight distribution, and think about the half-life of a plastic bag.


I might start to be loyal to one grocery chain if someone figures this out and starts to train their staff accordingly.

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2 Responses to The Bagging Paradox

  1. rita says:

    I have a big problem with over-bagging at Whole Foods frankly. Sometimes I’ll buy 6 things and walk out with 5 bags; a small plastic for each meat or poultry item, an extra paper for a bottle of wine and then 2 separate bags if I have a large juice bottle thrown in.

    • nonsequiteuse says:

      Wow – I am scared to use bags other than my own at Whole Foods! I totally feel shamed by the baggers, and usually end up putting stuff in my big purse if I don’t have a bag. I’ve even rummaged through my trunk to find old plastic walgreens etc. bags before going into Whole Foods.

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