Thursday, 13 October 2011

Bags and bags and bags.

What is it about plastic bags that makes me so annoyed? Don't get me wrong, we all have a few, mostly because we call in a supermarket on the way home, unexpectedly and don't have a bag for life with us. But any that I do have will get re-used for some purpose or other and in 99 times out of 100 I have my own shopping bag for life with me and don't need a plastic bag. No, that is not what annoys me, consumers using free plastic bags doesn't even annoy me. What annoys me is the pathetic, half hearted attempts at supermarkets, shops and the government to take no responsibility at all.
10 billion were given out in the UK alone in 2008, that is on average 400 per household.
Thousands of marine animals and over a million birds die each year as a result of plastic pollution.

Now there have been some good attempts by Marks and Spencer, who started charging 5p for a bag and have, I believe, stuck to that (I wouldn't know for sure as I don't shop there).
But other supermarkets are a bit pathetic. Sainsbury made a half hearted attempts at not having plastic bags out so you had to ask for them, but now, I notice, that has gone and there are just as many as there ever were. If you read there website on the subject it is a pathetic joke. Their reason for providing plastic bags still is:

Unfortunately, it's not possible for us to stop providing free carrier bags for our customers as it’s now considered a trading critical item in our stores.

Sounds like a load of non-words to me.

We did a 'pay-for' trial some years ago where we did charge the cost price for carrier bags to our customers, but our customers where not happy and complained.

Well, of course you are going to get that response if you ask regular joe blogs if he minds paying for something or not..

What does the UK competition law say?  Well, they don’t permit retailers to work together to agree between themselves to charge for carrier bags. Why?  It would be considered to be controlling part of the market for carrier bags, which is worth a lot of money to a number of UK companies.

Now I take this to mean that the basic reasoning is that because the plastic bag industry is making someone, somewhere a lot of money, that an individual company should not upset that. How short-sighted is that? Surely the bigger picture is of more importance.

The thing is, the government go around and around doing a sort of shall we, shan't we on the subject. I mean really, if they just either a, made a ruling that they must be paid for, or b, even better, that they banned them completely then people may complain for a few weeks but soon everyone would just be used to it and deal with it. In the past, supermarkets used to let you pick up their old cardboard boxes to pack stuff into, now they don't do that (except lidl, who seem to have a better policy). everyone would soon remember to take bags with them.
If the government takes this much to persuade and this much procrastination over something as simple as a fairly obvious plastic bag issue, then there is pretty much no hope at all over bigger and more important green issues going on. It is time they stopped worrying about who they will upset and started looking at making the Earth a cleaner, safer and longer lasting place to live.


  1. You are quite right. These plastic bags are poluting the seas. Unfortunately, only a minority on this planet cares about it. We are this minority. It needs an awful lot of re-educating the public, so that they will all get used to using their own re-usable bags for shopping. The convenience society has to change, but supermarkets must be also allowed to kerb their practises. It seems a difficult task, but somebody(politicians)must make a stand somewhere.
    It`s time to scrap this ruthless consumerism and uncaring behaviour towards our planet, before we all drown in this sea of plastic wrappers and throw away bags. - I always have a canvas bag(made by my fair hands!) with me when shopping. It fits very easily into my little rucksack bag and I never have an excuse for not using my own bags. I also make sure to remind the check-out girls that I have brought my own bag/s, so they don`t even get the chance to shuff me their nasty plastic ones. Its` all a matter of being bothered, to re-educate ones self, to learn a new life skill, if you never done so before. We can`t force the rest of the population into doing what we do, but we certainly can lead by example and hope that others might follow suit.

  2. Hear, hear. I think the same about bottles aswell. Have one standard type of bottle which can be re-used instead of being thrown away. I'm sure we can all get used to taking bottles back to the shop. We used to do this. Empty milk bottles were left out to be collected and re-used.
    Why not have more 'fill your own containers' for say sugar, flour, dried fruit, tea, grains and seeds etc. Like you say people will get used to the idea and then it will become the norm.
    Love from Mum

  3. Totally agree. From October 1st Welsh consumers have had to pay 5p for single use bags. Since Ireland brought in bag charges they have had 90% reduction in carrier bag use. I can't see whats so hard about carrying a bag with you. If you don't then, either pay for one or carry your shopping in your arms. You won't forget next time!!!
    Debbie x

  4. Hi! I spent some time in France a few years back. Supermarkets there don't provide any "disposable" carrier bags at all - the only ones available are of the bag-for-life variety. If you don't bring a bag, or aren't prepared to buy a fancy one, you have to load up your trolley again, wheel it out to your car and load your purchases into the boot individually. As such, French shoppers don't go shopping anywhere without a re-useable bag or two (at least). Why can't the UK adopt a similar approach?

  5. Hi, I don't know if its my pc but I cant read the writing on this background.
    Is it me????

  6. I too have been to France and it was introduced years ago there that they don't supply plastic bags only reusable. We bought two of their very large reusable bags and 6 years later I'm still using the same bags to do my shopping here. I always have my car boot full of reusable bags and always have a selection of bags in my handbag. If they stop providing them in shops it will only take a short time for people to get into the habit of always taking a bag out with them. If shops keep providing them, even at a charge it will never solve the problem we have with plastic bags. I say a total ban on plastic bags! If stores really want to supply customers with a bag they should provide brown paper bags the Americans used to use. Actually, I think it was Safeway who used to supply the American type paper bags years ago.

  7. I could have kicked myself today! I gave my mum her bag for life back and forgot to put any plastic bags in my bag. I actually felt really annoyed that I had to use 'normal' plastic bags. :(

  8. in wales it is LAW that eveyone pays 5p per bag...
    I would love to know if all that 5p goes to conservation groups?

  9. I am sure that 5p ends up in someone else's pocket John, making someone rich. at least Wales has seen the light, as has Ireland I believe. I don't see why there has to be all this too-ing and fro-ing and lack of decisive action. It is a simple thing to change, surely. But in England the ministers are so afraid of upsetting someone and losing votes that decisive action, if it happens at all, happens at the speed of a three legged tortoise.
    By the way, Crafty Cat Corner, I don't believe I have a background at all on my posts, so perhaps it is your computer? Anyone else had a problem? I hope it is not something to do with me.
    Thanks for your comments, everyone, as always. I knew my readers would be a bag for life kind of bunch.

  10. We should definitely have to pay for plastic bags. I can't think of a good reason why we shouldn't. Aldi charge for their plastic bags (3p) so if I buy a bit more than I expected to and the box & bag I took are not quite enough, it's not the end of the world BUT the emphasis is placed on me to be a bit better prepared next time isn't it?

    I do have supermarket bags from home deliveries but they ALL get recycled in one way or another. I can't remember the last time I bought bin liners for instance!