Thursday, June 3, 2010

What plastic bags say about how we live

Sarang sent me an article from the NYTimes, about how California is increasingly looking to ban the use of plastic bags, encouraging people to bring their own bags. That's terrific. But why have we come to a point where it is necessary to legislate common sense? I mean, doesn't it make complete sense to have a bag made out of cloth (say, an old dress) that you can use for years, rather than have some paper or plastic bag that tears, the handle of which may break at inopportune times, rendering the bag useless? No, convenience trumps all! A plastic bag represents something new, untouched, just for us to use once, maybe twice. It represents where we'd like to be - not here. It represents a sort of detachment from where we are, and what we are doing. It represents our obsession with cleanliness - totally sterile. It represents a sort of cavalier mentality, in which we can use what we need, get what we want out of it, and move on to the next thing. A plastic bag? Who knows where it came from? It looks like all of the other plastic bags that were produced from some oil from somewhere. No, these bags represent what else is out there. Why save one? Can a plastic bag have any sentimental value to anyone? Can it age with you? Can you pass it on to your child? Move on to the next frontier, lest we be left behind. Left behind with an old piece of cloth, a school uniform that performed its duty, until its master grew out of it. A piece of cloth that can be washed and reused, many a time, and be folded, without making irritating sounds and crunchy noises.

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