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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Plastic Bags

We seem to be having a food storage problem at our house. The thing about a CSA share is that you can end up with more food than you can possibly eat every week. Because of this I've made about 6 weeks worth of delicious soups for lunches. I've also filled up all the airtight containers we have. Getting your food straight from the farm also cuts down on the number of plastic shopping bags around the house. This is probably overall a good thing, but I have noticed that there are certain uses in which plastic shopping bags are useful - putting your scraps in them around the kitchen as you cook and putting your lunch in one on the drive to work so it doesn't leak on the car seat. Of course you could use a reusable lunch bag, but then you have to put that through the washing machine so is it really so much better for the environment? I mean I guess so, but I just think if you are using plastic bags for multiple uses they can't really be that horrible, right?  I always feel that way when I bring back bottles for recycling in 5 different reusable shopping bags. They are covered in soda drippings so I can't really use them to take home my chicken, and then I have to put them all in the washing machine which uses energy.  I wonder if plastic bags are really the evil they are made out to be.

Anyways, since I don't want to buy more airtight storage containers because I am sure I will eat the 30 portions of soup in the freezer and be left with an enormous amount of plastic containers, I've been using plastic sandwich baggies for things I might normally put in airtight containers.


Sandwich baggies are associated with a specific memory for me. When I was in college I was really into the New Yorker, the New York Times, "Sex and the City" (hate it now though), and Woody Allen movies. Because of all those reasons my boyfriend at the time and I decided to move to New York City. It must have been about 5 am on April 5, 2005. I was 23 years old, I had a college degree, not too horrible interactions with the opposite sex in relationships that lasted years, and about 8 years of working experience. I had probably proven in some reasonable way that I'd end up ok. Nevertheless, my mother was running around the house saying "There are so many things you need!!" and what she ended up finding was sandwich baggies. I would have to find my place living in one of the craziest cities in the world, would have to deal with how to pay for grad school, would end up living by myself for a couple of years, and face unexpected hurdles - but I would have a way to pack some Cheez-its for a trip to the park if I wanted. I'd be ok. I didn't really eat much, or take food from home much in those years and that same box of 300 sandwich baggies followed me from near Prospect Park in Brooklyn to Astoria, Queens, back to Brooklyn in Brooklyn Heights and then to Albany. At that time I actually did pack/make enough food to finish off the box.

It is similar to when I went home for Labor Day and I unexpectedly had to drive back on my own and my mom was afraid I wouldn't have enough snacks. She gave me way more than I could have eaten even in 10 hours - 3 apples, a container of Baba Ganouj, pita chips, wheat thins, pretzels, yogurt, and granola bars. Seemed a little crazy unless you think it is not really about snacks and more about "You are driving through multiple states, could face untold adversity, the world is a wild and crazy place - but at least you have snacks!" It almost stands in for something that is more difficult to articulate. I had to rely mostly on myself to find a satisfying career and a good relationship - but at least I had sandwich baggies! So every time I walk over to our new bag of 300 sandwich bags it weirdly puts a smile on my face. It makes me feel happy and grateful - like my mom wanted me to be ok, like you can teach your kid right and wrong, you can make them go to college and get work experience, you can make sure they aren't obese, but lastly make sure they have something to carry around pretzels in!

Similarly my dad's contribution to me starting my own life in a crazy city where I didn't know anyone with not very much money was buying me a box of nails. I can't remember why. I know that when we arrived in our apartment near the Brooklyn Museum that we were going to share with a Jamaican guy, Japanese girl, and girl who went to FIT from Sault St. Marie, MI he was hot and wanted to buy a fan. We went to a hardware store and he bought the fan and a box of nails and said "You always need nails in life." Funny enough I guess I didn't hang much in my various apartments in NYC, and that box made it all the way to Albany. I used the last nail from that box the other day to hang up this picture from our wedding in a mosaic frame I made . My dad and I danced to "Miss Independent" by Ne-Yo. That song and this picture will probably always make me laugh, in the same way that weirdly enough a box of sandwich bags can make me faintly smile.

 (Photo by Jacqueline Lynch Photography)

 

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