On this first day of 2013, I dismantled holiday decorations. I repacked the porcelain nativity that has graced my home for almost three decades, placing Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus in the manager, shepherd boy, and animals in their original Styrofoam container. I removed the Charles Dickens made-in-Japan Christmas caroling family and took down the enameled metal poinsettias, artificial pine branches, and polyester fur-trimmed stocking. Outside, I unwound the poly garland and removed a half dozen three-foot plastic candy canes. With all signs of synthetic Christmas holiday cheer removed, time to plunge into the New Year au naturel.
I use that term, not meaning naked or raw, but in the context of moving away from synthetics. Today is the beginning of the plastic bag ban in Alameda County, California, my domicile. BYOB (bring your own bag) is the new rule. I’ve practiced for this day, bringing recycled bags to shop at Trader Joe’s. If I’m short one bag, the clerk graciously gives me a brown paper bag for the overflow. That generosity stops today with the new mandate that T.J.’s must charge me a dime for that bag.
I won’t pay it. I keep a stash of colorful reusable bags from Grocery Outlet (brown and beige), Target (red), Sprouts and Livermore Library (green), Office Depot (fuchsia) and a cardboard box (white) in the trunk of my car. If I don’t have enough bags, I’ll ask the clerk to place the other items loose in my shopping cart. I’ll choose a bag by my color mood when I reach my vehicle.
Next step in the BYOB mandate is editing The Glass Wall, my mystery manuscript. Detective Taylor Madrid, my female protagonist from Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO), Arizona keeps a plastic grocery bag in her Mustang convertible for accumulated trash. It wouldn’t do for her to get caught throwing it into a dumpster while chasing clues out of her jurisdiction in Alameda County. Perhaps she’ll buy a brown paper bag from Trader Joe’s.