Purging a Little Bag-gage

Some of you might only know me from this blog, or perhaps my podcast.

But if you know me in real life (and some of you do), one thing you’d notice is that I rarely go anywhere without at least one bag on my shoulder or crossing my body.

How many I carry at once depends on what I’m doing. You might be seeing me right after work. Or going to a clothing swap. Or going to work out. Or lugging groceries … you get the picture.

Which leads me to today’s post.

My name is D, and I have a bag hoarding problem.

I have a number of fabric/reusable bags in various stages of use or disrepair. But my real problem lies with my collection of plastic bags.

But D, you ask, you do know you can recycle plastic bags, right?

Um, why yes, I do. But I hold on to plastic bags, because you never know when they’ll come in handy (and not just for disposing items).

I recently decided to do a bit of cleaning and discovered just how many bags I’ve saved for such occasions:

20180213_163216Um. Yeah.

Believe me when I say that this photo doesn’t fully show the scale of my “little” problem.

There were bags within bags, shoved into other bags, crammed under my desk, balled up in one of my closets.

I’d been putting this task off for months, simply because it’s so time-consuming. But about two weeks ago, I got tired of it.

So I pulled up my sleeves, pulled out all these bags, and got down to sorting.

I started with the obvious: recycling bags that have holes or have disintegrated over time.

(Something I learned: over time, biodegradable plastic bags pretty much become plastic confetti that gets everywhere.)

Then, my floor covered in plastic, I made piles according to size and shape.


Another thing I learned:

I’ve spent a lot of time at Popeye’s Chicken — and I do mean a LOT. It’s a dangerous habit and I need to watch myself.

After arranging the sea of plastic into something a bit more orderly, I went from pile to pile, counting how many of each I had in total, and then cutting down those piles by at least half, but usually much more. So if I had, say 30 bags, I tried to limit the pile to between 10 and 12.

The only exceptions to my arbitrary rule were shopping bags big enough to line my garbage cans, and clear produce bags I could use for organic food scraps.

I also had some big sheets of plastic (former dry-cleaning garment “bags”), which I stored in case I need to paint or re-pot something. (You never know!)

I’m sure there’s a faster way of doing this.  But to make any headway, I chose to do it this way, because seeing what I was doing as I was doing it helped make the task a little less overwhelming.

I spent maybe an hour and a half, two hours at most, but I think I made a decent-sized dent.

The shopping bags meant for garbage cans were stuffed in a small cardboard box that will act as a dispenser. (This was something my mom did in her previous home.)

And after a few trips to the recycling bins in the basement, I felt a small sense of accomplishment.

That is … until I went to store a couple chairs in one of my closets and found this:


See? I told you I had a problem.

Having run out of steam, I shoved it in a corner out of mild frustration, but I did tackle it last week.

We’ll see how long this period of reduced-bag living lasts.

What “problems” or tasks have you put off, and are going to tackle this year?

It could be on your spring cleaning to-do list, or perhaps it’s something that’s been hanging over your head for months, and you’re finally going to do something about it.

Let me know in the comments, if you have time!

Toronto’s Transit Troubles

While at work a few evenings ago, I ran into a colleague of mine.

In the midst of our chat, he told me about going to buy subway tokens on his meal break … and having to go to THREE subway stations for tokens.

At the first two stations, the ticket booth collectors told him they were out of tokens. When he arrived at the third, there was an enormous lineup.

It’s stories like these that I’ve either read or heard, since the TTC approved their impending fare hikes last Tuesday.

The approval was then followed by the official announcement on Wednesday …

And was almost immediately followed by a colossal shutdown on two sides of the Yonge-University-Spadina subway line.

(Which – while completely unrelated, and coincidental in its timing –  was unfortunate, but somehow symbolized the problem with the whole situation.)

The TTC’s decree resulted in people running to subway stations around the city, to buy as many tokens as they could get their hands on. But not before the commission clamped down – first by limiting the number of tokens per person to five, for the princely sum of $11.25 …

And then by ceasing token sales outright … announcing they would only be selling temporary tickets from now into January. (When fares go up, those tickets will have to be supplemented by a quarter to make up the full fare.)

I think there are a few places where they’ve got the five token rule back – for now. But what a mess, indeed. And it’s not just tokens being affected.

Patrons like myself, who use the subway system more than 10 times a week, have to brace for an 11 per cent fare hike …

From the $109 we pay now for monthly passes, to a whopping $121.

And as I read a couple of days ago in one of the commuter dailies’ transit columns, forget about investing in the yearly subscription plan at 2009 prices. They’ll be sold in January at the new prices … which, after taxes, probably puts the total monetary amount somewhere in the mid-$1500 range.

Excuse the crude visual, but talk about bending over and grabbing your ankles.

To be fair, I don’t think the fare hikes are to help pay workers’ wages. Believe what you want, but I don’t think so. It’s a bigger issue of subsidizing – or in our case, a lack thereof. The TTC isn’t exactly at the top of the list when it comes to well-subsidized transit authorities.

In the meantime, the only thing commuters such as myself can feel, is an increasing sense of frustration.

Will things on the transit lines EVER get better, even with the promise of Transit City, some 10 years away from completion?

And will THAT mean we should just prepare for more fare increases to come?

Personally speaking, I also don’t think this latest announcement is going to help encourage people to use transit as an environmentally-friendlier alternative to commuting around Toronto.

If anything, I wouldn’t be surprised if it drove (or kept) them out of the seats of subways and streetcars, and right back into the seats of sedans and SUVs.

Or maybe it won’t change a thing.

Only time will tell, come January 2010.