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52 ways to save the planet: No. 2 : plastic bags

It's already fairly clear that the whole Bring Your Own Bag thing is a source of much enjoyable grouching. But I'm not going to write about using shopping bags because
a) I already did
b) It's in the Change the World for a Fiver book which I got in 2004.

On Sunday, I went into the local supermarket (I heard a girl on the bus call it Scumerfield last night, which is fair) and, amongst other things, bought some Baco degradable black bin bags. You won't find them listed on their webpage although you can read all about Scentsations (small waste bin bags which smell of the nasty chemical perfume in plug-in airfreshers - yuck). So instead, here's a link to an online supplier of biogradable bags which looks to be cheaper than I paid in the shop. So the one bin bag a fortnight I put out will start to decompose in the street if the council forget to collect for a couple of days. Also, here's a leftie Grauniad article on what happens to the bag after the council have finally come by at 6am and woken me using the airbrakes.

Oh, alright, more about plastic shopping bags. Further to Chris's comment, my googling for bin bags also pulled up a BBC story about the Scottish Parliament's prevarication on a bag tax. What I found there was a lobby group called the Carrier Bag Consortium which seems to be very keen on suggesting that the proposed tax is about stopping litter rather than about stopping the use of bags and their disposal in landfills. Their What People Say page includes comments from A Concerned Shopper, who may as well be Mrs Trellis from North Wales or Brig. A. G. Lethbridge-Stewart (Rtd.) for all that the shopper's comments can be verified. For what it's worth, a tax seems less of an incentive than the money-back schemes the supermarkets brought in for a while, although I've noticed very few of the checkout people ever offer me a penny back for using my own bags.

In fact, Tesco no longer mention the scheme on their page about helping customers recycle, and it takes a fair while and a trail of links to find Sainsbury's corporate policy on plastic bags and no mention of the penny back. As far as I can see, neither giant is considering the simple change of not automatically offering customers a plastic bag when they are buying small items e.g. a pint of milk. It might be a pint of Organic milk in a HDPE bottle complete with a little handle but you still need a bag to carry it in all the way from the supermarket to your office fridge. Grr. I'm thinking of making up badges with a little bit of text reading "No, I really don't need a bag, thank you." but then I suspect the manufacturing costs would cause the Isle of Wight to reappear on my 7/10th of a planet.

Posted @ 12:05 am on Wednesday, January 11, 2006
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