No free bag? Pork roast, meet purse

Hot Flashes



I’m trying to hold it together. And I’m not talking glue, baby.

I’m entering a new chapter, and all ye residents of California have been equally baptized with me into bag mania. You there at Target in Moorpark. You at the new Gelson’s. And you with the Trader Joe’s bags rolling around in your back seat in Simi. I just bagged all you sorry suckers into my tribe.

Instead of “Paper or plastic?” today we are asked, “Do you want a bag?” Of course I want a bag, you bozo.

You know, through all my phases, through scuffed saddle shoes, go-go boots, penny loafers and now leopard-sensible, I never thought much about bags. About the luxury of filling up at the grocery store and reusing for wet bathing suits or unexpected gifts from Fido. Or what to do at Ralphs when I’m too cheap to buy a bag and there’s no room for the pork roast in my purse.

And really, who wants to shove a pork roast in a purse anyway?

Thanks to Proposition 67, we’re all in the same bag, “holding it together” in a new way. No more plastic giveaways at the store.

Apparently, we gluttonous Californians went through about 13 billion checkout bags yearly. Those days are gone, Maria.

I’m all for conservation. Heck, when I grew up, Mount Rushmore and plastic didn’t exist. At my Piggly Wiggly, paper bags were dispensed, so we hoarded ’em like $2 bills.

Come to think of it, we boomers invented recycling. Those bags provided the resources to cover schoolbooks, make ball gowns and Halloween costumes, and wallpaper the fort. Brown was beautiful. And I’ve dragged a few losing science projects to school in those bags, leaking all the way.

Complying with the California referendum, I’m developing a bag fixation. It’s a fashion accessory and a trash receptacle all rolled into one.

And I’m realizing that the value of your proverbial plastic bag has risen along with California’s debt and the price of a grande latte.

It’s the cost that bugs me. I refuse to pay a dime for a bag that the stores gave away previously, so I’m grabbing all the goods I can get. And the revenue from the 10-cent “tax” does not go to the environment—it goes to the stores, “to be used for specified services.” There’s no requirement for stores to fund beach cleanups, land preservation or similar environmental efforts.

Sounds like slush funds without benefits.

Flimsy plastic bags are evil, we’re told. They don’t biodegrade. They hang around forever, fouling the environment and gagging fish. They must be banned.

OK, I’m in. Get rid of those nasty buggers. But here’s where I’m confused. So they ban plastic bags but you can buy a plastic bag? Call me stupid but that makes no sense.

OK, ban plastic. Why not sell only paper? It’s OK to sell a plastic bag but not to give one.

Help me.

And get this. Around $313 million was spent annually by grocers on single-use shopping bags. Why isn’t that money now going to save the whales or give foot massages on the bullet train?

No one asked me. I guess they don’t ask people whose hormones come in a bottle. But I’ve replaced vodka with cherry juice in my martoonis, traded my high heels for sensible orthotics, and now I’m hoarding bags. One says, “I could give up shopping—but I’m not a quitter.”

I’m holding it together, bag by bag. But now I need to figure out how to get this pork roast smell out of my purse.

Elizabeth Kirby has been around a long time—a resident of Thousand Oaks since 1983, whose glass is usually half full if she can find it. Reach her at or To read all her columns, check out!/ elizabethkirbyandhotflashes.