photo by Erin Lafferty
One Less Bag
When I was a kid, I spent a summer working in my parents’ deli in Sea Isle City, New Jersey. I had various odd jobs, but my main job was running the cash register. I met all kinds of people at work: summer-long, and weekend vacationers, shoebees (a/k/a day trippers), and my favorite, the locals. Many came in every day for the same items: coffee, donuts, cigarettes (40 years ago smoking was still okay), a meatball sub. Some would indulge me with a smile, a word, a bit of wisdom. I recall one gentleman in particular. He never took a bag whether he had one or five items despite my repeated offerings. “If everyone took one less bag,” he would say, “imagine how many trees we could save.” I credit him with planting the seed of environmentalism in my 11-year old brain. In the 1970’s, when I was working the register the paper bag ruled.