June 13, 2024
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June 13, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

I feel like I need to say upfront that I have nothing against the environment. Well, I do have things against certain environments, but nothing against the overall one. That said, I don’t think the plastic bag ban is going to save our planet. (Earth.)

I bring this up because the governor of New Jersey has recently signed a ban on stores giving out shopping bags. We have to bring in our own bags made out of sackcloth, like in the days of Achashveyrosh.

Now, I know this is not really news to a lot of my readers. New York, for example, has had this ban for almost a year now. And then they realized that half the Jewish population of New York does their shopping in New Jersey. So now New Jersey is doing it, too.

And it’s not just New York. Israel doesn’t use unnecessary plastic bags in the supermarket anymore, either. Unless you count milk.

But none of this is personal. It’s all for the environment. Apparently, people are unpacking their groceries and then throwing the bags out into the wind, letting them blow all over the once-beautiful highways of New Jersey, probably creating all that traffic. You know how when you’re sitting in traffic for a long time and you get to the front of the line and say, “What caused all of that? I don’t see anything”? Someone had a bag over his windshield, that’s what.

I guess this ban is well-intentioned, but it shows that these politicians are really out of touch. Do they not have a bag at home full of smaller bags—a bag bag if you will? All I have to say is that obviously these politicians are not Jewish, because there is no Jewish family that does not reuse bags.

As much as we’re not the most environmentally friendly people in a lot of ways—and if you’re not sure what ways, bring an environmentalist into your house the week before Pesach—in this way we are. I have never purchased a garbage bag in my life below kitchen size. Nor a suitcase, until my wife came along.

The only bags we don’t reuse are the ones from the non-kosher supermarkets, because those have a thickness that is—I kid you not—measured in microns. No wonder the government is sick of plastic bags. The governor is coming home with these bags, saying, “I can’t reuse these. Forget it. What happened to my sodas?”

What does the governor use for little garbage bags? Where does he toss his trash when he’s in the car? The highway?

He’s also clearly not trying to keep a felt hat dry in the rain while also wearing it.

Also, is this ban in all stores, or just supermarkets? Like how on earth are you supposed to bring home a goldfish?

I guess this will all just take some getting used to. I have a friend in New York who’s still getting used to it. He often forgets to bring bags to the store, and then of course he doesn’t realize that until he’s getting ready to pay for his groceries.

“Why… Why is the bagger just standing around?… Oh.”

And there’s no way he’s paying for bags, so he just puts all the loose items back into his cart and pushes it to his car.

Ever walk out of the store thinking, “I feel like I’m shoplifting”?

And then he puts all the loose items in the back of his car and drives home, saying, “What was that noise?… What was that noise?… What just broke?” because everything the supermarket sells is round.

And then when he gets home, his kids all have to run out a million times and bring in loose items. Or they can come out with a laundry basket. And there’s no way they’re not going to miss anything under the seats somewhere. Days later, my friend is like, “Didn’t I buy a cantaloupe?” Usually on Shabbat.

And OK, I can start keeping a bag bag in the car, but what if I walk to a store? What if I don’t know when I leave the house, that I’m even going to walk into a store? And let’s say I did bring bags everywhere. How do I ever know how many bags I’m going to need?

“You can always pay for bags,” you say.

That is not something that has even occurred to me. I don’t know how much the store is charging for loose bags, but it’s probably cheaper to just grab a box of garbage bags that you need for your house anyway and first use them for your groceries.

“And what?” you say. “Carry the groceries home in garbage bags?”

Yes. Until now, we were given shopping bags that we later reused as garbage bags. How is this different?

Plus I’d have to buy more garbage bags anyway, now that there are no shopping bags. We’d all have to buy more garbage bags, storage bags, diaper genie bags, and so on. So what is really being saved here? The environment is producing just as many bags. We’re not producing less garbage. All I’m doing is replacing the bags I was being given with bags that I’d buy, which are probably thicker.

My brother in New York has been having relatives from Jersey keep bringing him bags.

“What can we bring you guys when we come for Shabbat?”

“Honestly? Bags.”

But now that New Jersey is banning bags, too, we’re running out of options. We’re going to have to start coming back from summer vacations with suitcases full of bags.

“Do you have anything to declare?”

“Yes. Bags.”

“No, what’s in your bags?”

“Bags.”

“Do you speak English?”

We can also start making shidduchim further out.


Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia and other magazines. He has also published seven books and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].

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