Friday, February 29, 2008

Plastic bags

If these last a long time it's a surprise to meSupermarket plastic bags have suddenly become the latest fashion for finding ways to help the environment, with talk of charges and taxes on them. It's all very well and noble, although I seriously wonder if it's going to make much difference beyond making a lot of people feel smug for themselves, but no-one seems to be talking about the reasons why many people don't recycle plastic bags very often.

Well here's a big one - a lot of plastic bags are so flimsy they don't last very long. More than once I've brought my light shopping home from Somerfield, only 300 metres down the road, and by the time I've got in the bags have been coming apart, with growing holes in the side and sometimes even the bottom. No way am I going to try reusing such bags. And they certainly wouldn't last in the usual scrum on the bus when I go to Asda to do my main shopping.

Also there's a deep social reluctance to be seen in one store with carrier bags from one of its rivals. This is especially the case for supermarkets, where it's very rare for someone to visit two during a single shopping trip. Now you can say this is just human cowardice, but store security guards taking an excessive interest don't exactly help encourage people to recycle bags.

Perhaps the solution to both of these is the creation of very sturdy (including bus proof), reusable plastic bags that are not store specific that can be easily used at any store time and time again. It would be a significant change to the way they're distributed - heck sometimes at Somerfield it's a problem to even get a single bag off the dispenser without it tearing - but until reusing bags is a real workable solution it's going to be very hard to get people to switch away from new bags each time.


CIM said...

I've been using a backpack to move supermarket shopping around for a few years now. Completely reusable and considerably easier to take the weight of than carrier bags. Nicer on the bus as well.

It can fit a couple of decent fabric or hard-wearing plastic carrier bags into the side pockets, too, for when lots of shopping is needed.

(Aside: I went to buy a phone at the local Argos and took a bag with me to put it in. Despite the place having "please use fewer plastic bags" stickers on the walls, the person giving me the item still looked surprised when I declined the offer of a carrier to put it in...)

Anonymous said...

One eco-friendly reusable carrier bag option is a Hero Bag from the US. Hero Bags are made in the US out of recycled cotton. They look great (no store brand) and they hold a ton! I believe that the website ships Internationally.


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