Grocery Bag Epiphany

Yesterday I was struck by how, as these convention centers, hotels, and destinations continue to find innovative ways to minimize the environmental impact of meetings, they've also kept slugging away at the basics, including recycling paper and cutting energy use.

I stopped for a few items at a popular grocery store in Manhattan on my way home and pulled out the nylon shopping bag that I sometimes — but not always — have tucked away in my purse. “Thanks for bringing your own bag,” the cashier said. “Guess how many paper bags we use a week?” she asked me. I really had no idea. “Five tons,” was the answer.

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about that number. Five tons of paper a week for one (granted, very busy) store just for grocery bags. It put the issue of making sustainable choices in terms that is hard for me to ignore — and illustrated how critical it is to keep working on the sometimes unglamorous, but very neccessary, work of changing behavior.

Barbara Palmer

Barbara Palmer is senior editor and director of digital content.