Monday, June 09, 2008

Need-a-Bag Update 06.07.08

Note: The Need-a-Bag? project was created to promote sustainable bagging at the Hwy 441 Alachua County Farmer's Market each Saturday morning. We supply reusable tote bags reclaimed from thrift stores and garage sales. The Need-a-Bag? project also utilizes old tank tops as tote bags by sewing up the bottoms (these are called t-totes). We invite you to read the other posts on the project by clicking the "Need-a-Bag? Project" label at the bottom of this post.

Forgot to count the bags once again, but this time I was saved by the fact that I used two whole sheets of stickers and then two from a third sheet, bringing the total to 14. So, ergo, we put out 14 bags.

It was packed at the farmer's market this weekend -- crazy busy. I kind of gave up trying to actually get close enough to the tables to see what all they had, and ended up just going to a couple of the usual places and buying the stuff I knew we would use -- a buttload of corn, onions, and eggplant. And, I overheard a couple of people talking about how to prepare acorn squash and decided to take the plunge and got a couple. The eggplant I'll either make into a masala or go with the baba ganoush like last time. And, the corn is not wormy this time. It's a really tasty bi-color type. All the same, I've begun a policy of cutting the tops off before husking. I have nothing against worms and caterpillars, but they will be much happier in the compost without me freaking out and flushing them down the sink.

Back to the bag situation. This week some lovely person left us two Jan Brett Gingerbread Friends reusable tote bags. They and all of the tote bags we put out were snatched up very quickly. I never thought I would ever say this, but I dread knowing that every bag we put out (with the exception of orphans like little Virgo) will get taken. Why do I dread this? Why don't I rejoice in this knowledge? It is because while folks have certainly acclimated to the idea of using reusable tote bags at the farmer's market, they have not processed the second part of the Need-a-Bag? project's ideals; namely, the bags should be culled and brought back for washing and reuse.

See, folks just haven't gotten that last piece of the puzzle, and it's kind of crazy-making for me. It's also troubling because, at this late date we are still buying copious amounts of bags. We're still not paying more than a dollar (and more on that in a sec), but we are still having to dip into our personal funds to keep this thing going.

I'm not passing judgment; when DG came up with this idea and we started working on the project, the founding philosophy was providing reusable tote bags so that people wouldn't have to think of these things when they left the house to go to the farmer's market; if we provided the bags free of charge folks would soon be using those rather than the plastic grocery bags. And, in actual practice, we have seen way more reusable tote bags being used at the farmer's market, in addition to the folks who pick up one of the Need-a-Bag? project's totes that we hang on the fence each Saturday morning. The problem is, not enough people have been donating the totes back to us.

I figured at this point the project would be self-generating and our function would be to collect the returned bags and make sure they were laundered and ready for the next market day.

So DG and I continue our weekly scourings of thrift stores and garage sales. This weekend we were lucky enough to run into an old friend who is now at the helm of one the better places to find totes. She was all about the project and gave us a SUH-weet deal.

I think, though, we're going to have create some more literature that entails this second part of the Need-a-Bag? project's 2-point plan:
1. Use reusable tote bags for shopping
2. Drop off dirty reusable tote bags for washing and reuse

Plus, Totey construction is going to start in the next couple of weekends and if anyone out there who lives close by would like to lend a hand to Gainesville's first sustainable mascot, please email me at tmgnordlie@gmail.com. Cookies will be served.

Got this picture off the ebay
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