Posted: Sun Feb 05, 2006 6:08 pm Post subject: Plastic bags - who needs 'em?!
Every time I go to Sainsbury’s I seem to come away with the jitters, terrifyingly multiplying in my head the number of brand new disposable plastic bags that supermarket alone must get through in a day, a week, a year… So often my heart will lift when I see that some thoughtful soul has brought along a rucksack to avoid such senseless waste – only to have my hopes dashed again when said person proceeds to compartmentalise all items of shopping into separate carrier bags before stashing them all away in the rucksack. Another have-to-laugh-or-I’ll-cry scenario occurs when a fellow shopper attempts to squeeze a 9-roll pack of toilet paper into a bag. Of course not more than the corner will fit, but the happy shopper merrily rolls off his/her trolley, plastic bags, toilet roll and all, seeing no irrationality in undertaking such an unnecessary activity. I am proud to be a part of such a sane society. No, really…I am…
Between 500 billion and a trillion plastic bags are used each year, requiring vast amounts of oil - that ever dwindling resource - to make and nearly all of them will, after their brief moment of usefulness, make their way to landfills, onto the streets, or into the water ways, basically littering the planet in every conceivable nook and cranny. In the water they are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of sea turtles, whales and other animals who mistake them for food, and they don’t biodegrade, they photodegrade, breaking down into smaller and smaller bits of toxic material, which, again, make their way into the digestive systems of animals. Lovely. And all this for the convenience of not having to bother bringing your own reusable bag to the shop. For more info go to www.reusablebags.com.
It would be great if we all realised the time had come to exercise a bit of self restraint. It’s not difficult to take a bag on your weekly grocery stint. A friend of mine forced herself into the habit by donating £2 to charity for every time she had to take a new plastic bag when out shopping, meaning she couldn’t afford not to remember. Bringing your own bag looks cooler too. Let’s face it, a plastic carrier bag is hardly this years must have accessory. Stylish? I think not. And the big bonus of all this is that each high quality reusable shopping bag used can avoid the use of hundreds, if not thousands of plastic bags over it’s lifetime. Hurray!
Supermarkets have so much to answer for. But then its up to the individual and it should be on their conscience. Because supermarkets have no conscience. Although the Co-op is pretty good and Sainsbury's is actually ok too. There's some stuff on www.ethicalconsumer.org about supermarkets. How can we enthuse people about taking rucksacks, do they use the plastic bags because they don't know about the environmental and economic consequences or they know and don't care?