Tag Archives: Transportation

No Paper Or Plastic. Instead I Use Earth Bags for Grocery Shopping

A black man delivering a bag of groceries. He is smiling and wearing a baseball cap and crewneck T-shirt with the word "delivery" across his chess. The bag of groceries contain a baguette, head of iceberg lettuce and a pineapple.

I haven’t gone totally and completely green. Rather opting for simple and small changes to help the planet. One  adjustment that  is now a routine part of my life is using reusable grocery bags, or what I call earth bags. I made this major modification several years ago and now it is a no brainer. . I literally don’t even think about it anymore. I just quickly grab them from the pantry doorknob and out the door I go.

When I am in the checkout line I strongly insist, even demand, all my groceries must be bagged in them. No paper, no plastic, thanks. I feel really good about this small habit because I know how much plastic is harmful to the environment. I know I can’t totally rid my life of all plastics but this little  practice makes a huge difference. And here are some more reasons I say, “No paper, no plastic.”

1. I want to help save trees.

Two brown paper bags of groceries sitting on a hardwood floor. The bags contain apples, bag of bagels, a baguette and head of iceberg lettuce.

I used to think paper bags were better than plastic. To a certain extent this is true. Even though they will break down better they are still destined for the  landfill. Also, they are harder to find. When I was growing up the question was, “Do you want paper or plastic?” I  would usually  respond with  paper, please. Now  many stores I frequent  don’t even offer paper , just plastic. When I use my earth bags I use less paper.  In my mind this gesture can save a tree or two.

2. Don’t want to be a Litterbug.

Plastic bags usually end up as litter because of carelessness.  They are so simple to use and very lightweight, you just forget about them. Look around your community and you will see plastic bags  floating around. Many communities, including mine, have launched don’t litter/keep our community beautiful campaigns.

3. Plastic bags are flimsy.

Empish standing with grocery cart in the checkout line.

We all have been in the checkout line. The bagger  is placing only one or two items per plastic bag. Then you walk out the door trying to carry a gazillion  plastic bags. I really hate that! Just another reason I use earth bags. Plastic bags are so thin and flimsy. They don’t last. If you got canned goods or heavy food items forget it. They rip and tear. To avoid this groceries are double bagged yet that is more plastic.

4. Plastic bags take up space.

Which leads to my next reason for using earth bags. After carrying those gazillion plastic bags home, what do you do with them? You can reuse it as garbage bags or to store items. But it is too many of them for all of that. They can populate like roaches. Taking over your home. Cluttering your kitchen drawers and closets. So, you know what happens next? They go in the trash and off to the landfill.

5. Earth bags  fit better in my metal grocery cart.

Empish is pulling her metal shopping cart in one hand while holding her white cane in another.

I take Paratransit, a transportation service for the disabled,  to the grocery store. This could mean the bus driver giving me the evil eye as I try and board with a bunch of bags. Realistically, that doesn’t work. So, I got a metal grocery cart. But placing all those plastic bags in the cart  doesn’t work either. But earth bags do. I can usually sit two bags side by side. Then place two more bags on top. That is a total of 4 bags. The metal cart rolls smoothly on and off the wheelchair lift on the bus, making me and the bus driver happy. Once off, I keep it moving and roll right into my house.

6. Earth bags are just plain easier.

It doesn’t take rocket science or  a lot of work to use earth bags for my grocery shopping.  I just grab and go. Also, they are easy to maintain. Most of my bags are made of strong and durable fabric that last a long time. And if they get soiled  or dirty just a  quick cleaning in the washing machine and they are good as new. For my reusable freezer bags, a fast wipe down with  a soapy dish rag and they are ready for the next shopping trip.

It’s Earth Month and April 22 is Earth Day! Have You Gone Reusable Yet? A tiny change like bringing your groceries home in reusable bags can make a large difference. Single use plastic bags are bad for the environment. Use earth bags instead.

Justice Department sues Uber Over Wait Fee Disability Discrimination and I’m Not Surprised

Disabled Black Man in Wheelchair Boarding Bus
Disabled African American Man In Wheelchair Boarding Bus

Last week I heard on my news podcast and it was confirmed in my ADA email newsletter that the US Department of Justice was suing Uber for disability discrimination over its wait fee policy. AS I listened to the news I was elated. It was about time but as they say, “the wheels of justice roll slow.” I was not surprised at this news because for years Uber had been charging me wait fees. It has become part of the reason I moved away from using their service and started relying more heavily on their competitor, Lyft.

Lawsuit Against Uber Explained

According to the suit, Uber was discriminating against the disabled by not giving amble time to board the vehicle upon arrival. Uber charges a wait fee two minutes after a driver arrives, and the customer is charged until the car begins its trip. This policy was added back in 2016. Now, these fees are charged to everyone as a way to compensate drivers but were never intended for riders who are ready at their designated pickup location and/or need more time to get into the car. But fees were charged even when Uber was aware the wait time was disability related. For example, a person folding up a wheelchair or a blind person with a mobility aid navigating to the car.

My Experience with Wait Fees

This is what I find so interesting and why I felt the need to say something on my blog. I don’t typically speak on lawsuits but I will today. Uber says that wait fees were not intended to be charged to customers who are ready to go or who need extra time due to a disability. But I beg to differ because of my personal experience. I can’t begin to tell you the number of times I was already standing at the curb of my location when the Uber driver pulled up and I was still charged a wait fee. The number of times I had called the driver in advance letting them know I was blind, using a white cane and how I was dressed so they could easily find me and yet still charged a wait fee. The number of times I was standing with a store representative who helped load my shopping bags in the Uber car as I got in the back and was still charged a wait fee. The one time the driver asked my permission to go inside to the bathroom before we left and I said okay. Only later to be charged a wait fee.

Empish Holding White Cane at Street Intersection

So, my eyebrow is raised with a smirk on my face when Uber says the following, “We fundamentally disagree that our policies violate the ADA and will keep improving our products to support everyone’s ability to easily move around their communities.”

To add insult to injury, when I would alert Uber to the wait fee charges initially they would keep quoting the policy like I didn’t know what it said. As if I didn’t know that already. At first they would refund me the difference but would never explain why I was charged in the first place after I took the time to give details. Then after a while they stop the refunds altogether stating I had requested too many adjustments to my account. The wait fee amounts would be typically under a dollar, which is not much, but it was the principle of the thing that would get my blood boiling. I would do everything in my power to be ready when the driver showed up but it didn’t matter I would get charged anyway. So, now you understand why I finally left? I even asked around to other blind friends and they shared the same story. So, I knew it wasn’t personal but a bigger problem.

Transportation is Critical

Transportation is one of the most critical issues for those of us in the disability community, especially the blind and visually impaired. We need reliable and affordable transportation. Accessing our own transportation helps us maintain our self-confidence, independence and quality of life. I remember when Uber came to my town I was so excited and happy. The ability to get up and go like my sighted peers was absolutely wonderful. To not have to wait hours on public transportation was great. When things like this happen it really is hurtful and harmful to a community that is a bit vulnerable. It diminishes trust and respect for us as disabled folks. I am passionate about this topic and plan to give my comments to the US Department of Justice. They are asking for people with disabilities to share their experiences and I will do so. If you are disabled and have had problems with Uber’s wait fees I encourage you to do the same. You can contact the Justice Department at 833-591-0425 (toll-free), 202-305-6786, or send an email to Uber.Fee@usdoj.gov.