Shopping with reusable bags & renewable fuel

It wasn’t that long ago that Publix cashiers would look at me like an alien when I took my canvas bag to the checkout. Seriously, they would try to bag the groceries in plastic before putting them in the canvas bag. Because, why would I not want eight plastic bags for six items?

Times have changed. Pubix not only sells canvas bags, but the store I frequent has a big hand-lettered sign out front that says “Did you forget your green bag?” That sign has sent me back to my car once or twice.

But when I ride my bike to the store, I don’t have to worry about forgetting my green bag. I have my grocery panniers.

Today’s Seattle Times has a good article about how fuel prices and the trend toward urban density are creating a new trend in car-less shopping and shifting shopping habits back to days of yore.

Time was, grocery shopping was something you did in dribs and drabs throughout the week, often by bus, train or on foot. A bakery here, the butcher there, produce from the produce man and butter from the dairy. You bought fresh because you had to; artificial preservatives weren’t around to keep bread from going stale.

Cars made it possible to haul a dozen bags of groceries home at a time, plus bulk items. For newcomers to shopping by bike, foot or public transport, the shift includes adjusting how and when they shop.

Hardware-store manager Jennifer Mullins walks from Belltown to the Westlake Whole Foods several times a week now, rather than the weekly supermarket trip she once made in her car.

“I buy smart and often and carry two bags, although I do have friends who have cars so I’ll hitch a ride with them to Costco and stuff. All my friends are always griping about gas prices and insurance and maintenance and everything. It’s worth the $10 cab ride every now and then just to not.”

That said, “It does make it tough for those times when your favorite glass-bottled juice is on sale and you’d like to buy 20 of them and you can’t get them home.”

Oh but you can! The article highlights a couple of load-hauling bikes for the truly committed… bikes you can take to Costco:

Or the Xtracycle (, $489), a hitchless bike trailer and extender that resembles a skateboard bearing wide, deep saddlebags on either side with room for plenty of groceries in the bags or lashed on top.

Or the bakfiets (say bok-feets): Dutch bicycles that resemble low-slung wheelbarrows built for cruising ( Stephan Schier of Dutch Bike Co. Seattle says he can’t keep the $3,000-plus bikes in stock, with customers across the country wanting to swap their cars to ferry food, children and cases of beer (sometimes all at once) in the bike’s roomy box.

Florida has the perfect terrain for hauling loads by bike. And you know what? It’s fun!

Photo from Mighk’s Flikr page… where you can see even more amazing loads.

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