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Putting 'green' back in groceries

MaryAnn Dunlop of Southbridge takes a fabric bag out of her cart, She said she’s been using them for years. Gus Steeves. (click for larger version)
August 08, 2010
SOUTHBRIDGE — Paper or plastic?

How about neither?

That's what the state Department of Environmental Protection, supermarkets and some local shoppers are saying is becoming a more popular option. Last month, DEP released figures claiming there has been a 25 percent reduction in the use of both kinds of disposable bags since 2007.

A visit last Friday to the Big Y plaza, however, shows plastic, especially, seems to be as popular as ever. Over the course of a half-four the vast majority of people departing the store had such bags, sometimes many of them.

But MaryAnn Dunlop wasn't one of them. Her cart held two fabric bags she said she's been using at least six years.

"I've used them since long before they started selling [reusable bags]," the Southbridge resident said. "… I used to get magazine subscriptions just to get the bags. They'd say if you didn't like the magazine, send it back and keep the bag, so I did."

Not far away, Tom Pandolfi of Woodstock certainly looked like Dunlop's polar opposite. He was unloading more than a dozen plastic bags into his hatchback, which contained a few reusable bags.

"I do bring my own. Unfortunately, I left them here [in his car] today," he said, admitting he used plastic to avoid "the inconvenience of me coming back to the car" once inside the store.

Pandolfi noted, however, that he does return the bags for recycling, partly because, "You can only save so many at home." But he thinks stores should make their recycling collection boxes more accessible by putting them near the front door.

See Tuesday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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