-- until finally someone just gave some to me, and that's what I've been using ever since.
And usually, when I'm going through the self-checkout at a supermarket with those cloth shopping bags, I do something wrong when putting my bags in place in the bagging area, and get the "attendant has been notified to assist you" message. (Only just now, back from the supermarket, having gotten that error message again, did it occur to me to watch other shoppers with reusable bags, see if they've figured it out, and if so to copy them.) A couple of times I didn't get the error message and I thought I'd figured it out, but I'm still not error-free every time. I'm apologetic to the attendants about this, but they don't seem to mind much. One of them even pointed out that if it weren't for customers like me making such mistakes, Kroger's would have less use for employees like him.
We're co-operating, the employees and I, and I'm using the bags to try to help out people in general, help us not poison ourselves so quickly. I have no idea how much difference re-usable shopping bags make. I don't know how much difference they would make if everybody used them all the time. One could examine Europe, where it seems most people having been using re-usable bags most of the time for decades now. To me, this is what socialism is: people trying to co-operate for the common good, thinking that a rising tide floats all boats, whereas capitalism is a fight: you win because somebody else lost, or vice-versa. I was very struck by the stories of bicycle-sharing programs I began to hear about in the 1990's because they operated on the same principal as car-sharing programs I imagined as a teenager in the 1970's, living in a city filled with huge parking lots full of cars going nowhere, and it struck me how much more efficient it would be just to use much fewer cars, but communally, leaving them unlocked with the keys in the ignitions.
But of course bike-sharing programs only work if people co-operate by not stealing the bikes, and car-sharing programs haven't been tried because we just don't trust each other enough yet that the very idea would strike most people as more than a crazy pipedream.
Trust is voluntary. Although I don't believe for a second that the Soviet bloc was as bad as capitalist propaganda sometimes portrays it to have been, it was imposed by force. A system based on the proposition that sharing is better, was imposed by force. A tremendous contradiction. Perhaps socialism can only prevail by persuasion and education, until people willingly adopt it because they see its benefits, and because they see the tremendous amount of waste, suffering, pollution, disease, etc, inherent in capitalism with its misanthropic every-man-for-himself approach.
If you're not yet familiar with bicycle-sharing programs, research them, and then imagine that the same thing were done with automobiles, and that it worked. [PS, 28. April 2015: As some of you probably knew when I first wrote this, and I found out since, people ARE doing it with cars. One company doing it is called Zipcar] So much less blacktop needed for parking lots, so much more green, so much better health for all of us, even not factoring in the benefits of the increased bike-riding and walking and public transportation and so forth which would naturally come with such a big shift in thinking. You may say that I'm a dreamer and so forth and so on, but I'm not the only one, et cetera, and if we don't imagine paradigm-shifting improvements in our behavior, how are they ever to come about? Through capitalism's invisible hand? No, I really don't think so. Capitalism may well have been a tremendous improvement over mercantilism, but that was centuries in the past, and we can do much better, and when we do hopefully we won't repeat the mistake of so many capitalists of thinking that we finally possess the best-possible way of doing things. Hopefully we can be modest enough to see that progress doesn't stop with us, having come at last to its ultimate fruition, and that given more progress, people in the future will come up schemes for getting along with each other far beyond what any of us now can envision.
Imagine no junk mail. I mean none. How big a forest is that?