It feels like 2020 has lasted a lifetime, but remember when the United States came together to fight the common enemy that was The Plastic bag? Cities all over enacted bans and shamed anyone who dared carry anything inside one. Those with pets were hardest hit because if you carry dog poop in a plastic bag, it looks like you cleaned up after your dog, but if you carry dog poop in a paper bag, it looks like you bought it (sorry).
Now, there's a chance that the coronavirus pandemic may bring them back, and plastic bags appear ready to return to the spotlight after going through so much hardship the past couple of years.
Being a plastic bag in the early 2010s was a rough existence. You couldn't get work anywhere as all across the country; thin disposable bags were given the old heave-ho. My sources tell me this relates to something called the "environment." In case you don't know, the environment is that empty space adjacent to you at all times. It often refers to forests and oceans and all the places where you can't get a Reuben sandwich.
If plastic bags had one thing going for them, it's that they were pretty clean. The pandemic has caused numerous states to reconsider or at least temporarily halt such bans over hygienic concerns, including New York, California and Oregon, and many retailers are now banning customers from bringing their own reusable bags. Why? Because they're filthy, filthy things (not yours, of course).
It's all to protect grocery workers as well as customers since the belief is that the virus is less likely to be transmitted on a fresh plastic bag than a reusable one. Can you still use your adorable Radio Flyer wagon to tow groceries home? Not sure.
The plastic bag ban never really impacted me because I shoplift (kidding), but hearing that they may be returning brings back all sorts of warm, plasticky memories. I always loved the way the bags swing from my hands and how they quickly unravel when I wind them up. Paper and reusable bags certainly have their purpose, yet they have no grace. They are creased industrial monsters, all right angles and harsh edges. Think of that plastic bag scene in "American Beauty," and then try to imagine it with a paper or reusable bag. That thing wouldn't get off the ground.
Still, paper bags have been a respectable fill-in, like when Don Cheadle took over for Terrence Howard as Rhodey in "Iron Man 2." They're great for using as easy recycling containers, are better than plastic bags for carrying long items like wine or baguettes (my entire diet) and work well as masks when you're embarrassed to be seen cheering for your team. I'm referring to the paper bags with handles, of course; the ones without handles are utterly useless and have no place in society.
No matter how long the coronavirus pandemic lasts, plastic bags fans shouldn't get too excited about their triumphant return. Many municipalities are only temporarily halting the bans, and studies have shown that the virus can potentially survive for a few days on plastic, too. We might need to delay that plastic bag comeback parade after all.
The poor things will just have to continue hanging out under bridges with styrofoam, candy cigarettes, incandescent light bulbs, asbestos and Kinder Surprise Eggs. It may look like a rough existence, but that sounds like a damn good party to me.