Should the Commissary Ban Plastic Bags?


The commander of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Virginia wants to ban plastic bags from his installation, including from the commissary and exchange, by 2013, I report today at Military.com. Plastic bags, he said, are terrible for the environment and really not as convenient as reusable or paper bags anyway. Banning them, he said, only makes sense.

To his surprise, however, he does not have the authority to tell the commissary or exchange on his base what to do. And so plastic bags are there to stay until the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) or exchange makes up its mind to do away with the option on their own. And it doesn’t sound like that’s going to happen any time soon.

Poll: Should plastic bags be banned on military bases?

The commissary plastic bag debate has been around for awhile. I’ve been hearing rumors that the commissary is going to ban plastic bags ever since I became a military spouse. I don’t have anything against reusable ones, but in this house the cheap plastic ones are used as trash can liners and for the disposal of unpleasant diapers.

One of the more interesting things a DeCA official told me during our discussion about this issue is regarding their effort to reduce the number of plastic bags used. I didn’t include it in the story, but here is what spokesman Kevin Robinson said:

In April we announced an initiative to our commissary customers to reduce paper and plastic bag usage by not double-bagging or bagging large items with handles unless a customer specifically requests it. We also asked baggers to give each bag "a boost" by placing just one more item in them.

We regularly use plastic bags at the commissary (… lots of diapers around here). And while I do appreciate the finesse with which commissary baggers do their jobs, they do double bag an awful lot – and I never, ever ask them to do so. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that three quarters of my groceries come home double bagged. I took an informal survey of my friends at a post across the country last week and they confirmed that the same thing happens there.

While commissary officials may think that “limit double bagging” has been communicated to their baggers, I’m having trouble imagining most of the baggers I’ve come across doing anything except exactly what they want and/or have always done. They don’t seem to be a real compliant lot. My husband seems to think this is tip related, but I think it’s probably more of an “old dogs, new tricks” sort of situation.

So, what do you think? Should the commissary stop using plastic bags? Should commanders be allowed to ban them from installations?

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