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Welcome back, paper sack

I know some people are offended by having to buy bags at the grocery store, but I am not among them. In fact, I prefer the paper sacks the grocers are offering now because they are easier to pack than the plastic variety we used to get. They also are less likely to tip over in the car.

Paper bags were the norm for years, until plastic bags came along and pushed paper bags aside. The plastic bags were cheaper.

The problem with them was, of course, that they were a public nuisance once they got into the environment. You would see them blowing up against fence lines, into people’s yards and into parks.

Efforts to recycle plastic bags weren’t all that successful because they just didn’t return any money to the recycler except in large quantities.

We lived for many years in the Pacific Northwest where paper sacks were made in big mills, and there it was considered unpatriotic to use a plastic bag if a paper sack were available. Plastic bags cost paper-bag-makers their jobs.

Paper bags are excellent products. You can reuse them for carrying groceries — if you remember to bring them to the store with you (which I never do). Or, at home, you can use them as handy garbage bags, or as containers to put your recyclables in, or as containers for keeping things sorted in your garage.

A small paper bag is excellent for flouring chicken. Just put flour and spices into the bag, then put in the cut-up chicken, close the bag by folding over the top and shake. The chicken will be nicely floured for frying, and you can toss the sack away once you are through with that task.

One of the lovely things about paper sacks is that they are self-recycling. In the garbage dump, where plastic bags hang around for decades, we are told, paper bags are among the first things to turn into compost. An environmentalist’s dream.

You don’t have to put warnings on paper sacks. Paper sacks, unlike plastic bags, do not pose the danger of smothering small children.

Plastic bags require petroleum for their manufacture, which is okay, but petroleum has other, more valuable uses.

Paper sacks, on the other hand, are made from trees, which grow perpetually.

Ah, welcome back, paper bags, even though you do cost a bit. You are ever so much better than those plastic messes, which also cost us.


The City Council, for now, has decided not to spend $117,187.20 on painting curb stripes in front of every house in the city.

The stripes were introduced last year as a way to give residents a way to show solidarity with law enforcement officers, fire fighters, ambulance drivers and other “first responders.” The little flag emblem was meant to mean that the householder displaying the stripe was on the side of those who put themselves in harm’s way to keep the peace and insure public safety.

It was proposed by the Madera Ministerial Association, and was endorsed by the City Council as a good-citizenship idea.

But the stripes didn’t quite catch on. If you drove around the city, you might see a few of them, but not many.

And there was a problem. Those who did have the stripes applied to their curbs soon learned the stripes didn’t hold up very well.

It was suggested the city take over and really push the striping program, but cooler heads prevailed On Tuesday night, the program was set aside for now.

And maybe the stripes weren’t needed. After all, the citizens voted to support Measure K, the sales tax for law enforcement — which was probably a much better way to show support for first responders than applying paint to your curb.

That Measure K money already is being used in recruiting new police officers, just as promised. Curb stripes would not have made that recruiting any easier.

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