Barrie Hudson has bags to say about plastic versus paper
SWINDON is apparently ahead of the curve when it comes to charging us for carrier bags.
Although the charges, intended to cut down on the amount of waste plastic clogging up the ecosystem, aren’t due to be made law for another couple of years, some of our our own stores are already levying them.
I can see the point of the charges, especially as the money raised will be handed to assorted environmental charities, but I think there may be some better ways of reducing our need for plastic bags.
Making the bags strong enough not to fall to pieces in the first place might be a good start.
Perhaps we’d have less cause to buy an extra dozen bags with every store visit if the last lot hadn’t all disintegrated.
If store bosses are so anxious to prevent us from using too many bags, maybe they should test the ones they already provide.
They could make a fact-finding game of it. Which item will be the one that splits the whole thing and dumps your groceries on the floor like some modern version of Buckaroo? Will it be the celery? The cat food? The Heinz cream of mushroom?
Or will it be the supermarket own-brand vodka, which means everybody else in the vicinity gets to look down their noses at you? “Not only a drunk,“ they’re thinking, “but a tight-fisted drunk who probably smokes roll-ups and then unpicks the dog-ends.”
In fact, the only way of guaranteeing that there won’t be any burst bags between the shop and your house is to order your goods online. This certainly works with supermarkets, as you can more or less guarantee that each tin, each packet, each sachet and quite possibly each individual fruit and vegetable will come in its very own bag.
This isn’t especially good for the environment, but it cuts down on breakages. It also ensures that the delivery van is miles away by the time you realise half the stuff you ordered is missing and you’ve been given a load of things you didn’t want instead.
Then you have to work out which is more inconvenient: going through the hassle of complaining or spending the next month spreading a jar of squid on your morning toast instead of marmalade.
The store companies tell us we should buy their stronger bags-for-life, but I don’t know whether that’s the answer, either.
Show me a bag-for-life and I’ll show you a bag for stuffing in the kitchen drawer with about three dozen other bags-for-life that you keep forgetting to take with you to the shop, so you end up having to buy another bag-for-life.
Perhaps we should all look into the past for a solution to the problem.
I seem to remember that many years ago shops used to pack their goods in carrier bags made of a miracle material that was sturdy enough to do its job safely but readily biodegradable.
Unlike knackered plastic bags, knackered bags made of this wonder substance could readily be broken down into their constituent parts and then made into more bags.
If only I could remember what the substance was called. Hang on, it’s just come back to me: paper.
Of course, paper might cost the store bosses a bit more than plastic, but I’m sure they wouldn’t mind their profits taking a slight hit for the sake of the environment.
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