Small rant warning
I wasn’t prepared for this. Both my hero and I are supportive of the move away from over use of plastic bags and have carried reusable bags for years. The green bag which I carry in my handbag was my Mum’s and each time I use it, I can hear her voice. For it’s the most mundane of her things which I use the most and which give me the most pleasure: her tea towels, her ironing basket and yes, her green, reusable shopping bag.
We went shopping this morning and no, I’m not going to have a go about the Christmas decorations which have appeared already.
In fact, they made us smile – after all, it’s not every day that Brussels Sprouts are to be seen dangling from the ceiling, is it?
We were actually there to buy a kettle. Our old one has stopped turning itself off and having found the kitchen full of steam on a few occasions recently, we thought it was time for a replacement. We made our choice and went to the tills.
“Would you like a bag for that?”
You see, all the publicity has been around supermarkets, where we go well prepared with our trolley bags and so on. I’d not given “other” shopping a moment’s thought.
Out came Mummy’s green bag and in went the kettle – though the large box meant the green bag was immediately full. Never mind. We were fine. Only afterwards did I think that John Lewis could have used some sticky tape or string to create a kind of handle on the box, removing the need for a bag at all. I need to think on that one!
Next stop Boots. Three for two on nail polish.
“Would you like a bag for those?”
They slipped into my handbag, no problem, so absolutely, no need.
Last stop, a mooch around Marks and Spencer, where I was looking to buy some black socks but spotted they’d got the new colours in their cashmere polo neck sweaters. I spent a bit more than I’d bargained for - £79 each sweater and £6 each bundle of socks.
“That’ll be £170 please. And would you like a bag for them?”
Oh. Ermm…maybe….oh no, we can manage. The car is only just through those doors…. I stuffed them into Mummy’s green bag on top of the kettle and felt sad that £170 worth of nice new cashmere was being treated so harshly. No nice wrapping in tissue paper (biodegradable), no protection from the elements or other purchases – sharp, snaggy box corners, grubby warehouse packing and sticky labels.
Clearly I wasn’t the first slightly bewildered customer of the day, for the sales assistant nodded and said that yes, it did seem crazy that people buying clothes were no longer being given a bag to protect their purchases. That underwear wasn’t wrapped any more and that people had left the store with an armful of bras and knickers trailing…
As we drove home, I mulled over what I needed to put into my bag for future shopping trips. Yes, I know I could have paid 5p for a plastic bag, but that would defeat the purpose somehow. We are not supposed to buckle but to do our best to avoid their use. But before I go shopping for “soft” things again, I must think on and put a few calico bags inside: soft ones, which will be suitable for wrapping clothes and corralling small purchases together. Mummy’s green bag was no longer going to be enough.
When I arrived home, there were two parcels on the doorstep. One, a plastic bag from Boden containing two shirts which I ordered ages ago and which had come into stock. They were packed in the usual spotty bag, a great secure, lightweight and waterproof way of keeping them safe in the post. But inside, each shirt was packed with tissue paper and placed in its own enormous plastic bag…
When we unpacked the kettle, it was inside two plastic bags, packed with cardboard spacers. Our shopping still produced quite a large amount of recycling, then and though I still agree that the over use of plastic bags must be addressed, I can’t help but feel that somewhere along the line we’re missing the point. If we’re going to stop using plastic bags for wrapping and carrying shopping, then surely, we need to stop using them for packaging things too?
In the meantime, I’m just going to raid my stash for some colourful cotton and get my overlocker working on some soft little bags to take shopping with me. Who knows when I might want to buy underwear!?
The other box on the doorstep was the most glorious bunch of orchids, sent with love from Tra. What a gorgeous splash of colour to bring a little of South East Asia to Gloucestershire! What a great cure for the grumps!