A Bag Is For Life

January 9, 2008 at 1:54 pm 7 comments

A Bag Is For Life 

bag for life

It seems that a bag, like a puppy, is for life, and not just for Christmas. Every time I visit my local Waitrose (which is often) I am offered a “Bag For Life”. No, this is not some promotional idea of a charity raising funds for poor children in Africa or for a new scanner of some kind at a local hospital. No, these are eco-friendlier bags; stronger so they last longer, and, presumably more bio-degradable than your typical supermarket carrier bag which is destined to clog up some landfill site for a couple of millennia. On the news this morning there were a bunch of eco-warriors of uncertain sexuality and various degrees of cleanliness, intelligence, and sowing ability who had taken the idea one step further. They had made shopping bags out of old clothes. Nice. Would you want to bring your groceries home in someone else’s granddad’s Y-fronts? 

Now don’t get me wrong. I am all for saving the planet and avoiding climate change. But, this Bag For Life thing just doesn’t seem to work for me. I think I have about six of the damn things already. Perhaps they are breeding. But for sure, I think I will be stuck with them for a very, very long time simply because I forget to take them with me to the supermarket. I now have to go through that whole routine where they ask me if I would like a Bag For Life; I say, “no thank you because I have several at home already”; and they reluctantly hand me two old-style carrier bags when I clearly need five or six for my many purchases, and they scowl at me in a way which is clearly intended to make me feel as if I am uniquely and personally responsible for imminent climactic chaos on an unprecedented scale. 

And in any case, I recycle/reuse the carrier bags. We put our rubbish in them. Our non-recyclable rubbish that is. I am a frequent visitor to the paper bank, the bottle bank, and the plastic recycling place. But we use the old-style supermarket carrier bags to put our non-recyclables in. And, incidentally, our non-recyclables consist mostly of unnecessary supermarket packaging! Let he who is without sin……. 

And, why do we need plastic bags at all? Why can’t we use paper bags like they do in America? Surely that would be much better for the planet. It would encourage the planting of more forests, and paper is much more easily recyclable than plastic. And, just think how many of us could have met our soulmates in one of those everything-falling-through-the-bottom-of-a-wet-paper-bag movie moments…… 

takeAnd, while I think about it, why can’t we have those nice carton things that Americans eat their Chinese takeaway out of using chopsticks, instead of those silver carton things and the plastic forks that we have over here? They may not have signed up to Kyoto, but they do seem to have a thing or two to tell us about packaging.  No, it seems that I am destined to feel the full weight of my own carbon footprint in the form of the growing number of Bags For Life that are to be crammed into kitchen cupboards and the millions of wire coat hangers that seem to be taking over the wardrobes upstairs. Every shirt that comes back from the laundry returns with its own hanger. If only I was creative and talented enough to recycle the hangers into children’s mobiles or sci-fi statues, or anything that I could make my fortune doing. 

And, while I think about it, the real purveyors of global warming and climate change are those little bastards who keep nicking our recycling bins. This happens far too often. We have already had one brown bin for compostable (is that a word?) stuff (weeds, leftover grub, etc.), and one blue box (for paper) stolen. Our neighbours have all been hit as well. We presume it is just kids doing it for fun, as there is not a lot else to do in sleepy Bradwall, rather than eco-terrorists. But it does seem crazy that I have to burn more CO2 by driving to the recycling place myself as a consequence of some childish prank. Perhaps the council can use those tracker things that they are putting into bins these days to find mine and return it to me.

 PS.Incidentally, on the subject of poor children in Africa and elsewhere, I would wholeheartedly recommend World Vision to you. C and I sponsor a little five year old Tanzanian girl called Sesilia. Her mom and dad are only young themselves and are subsistence farmers. We like to think that our contribution will make a real difference to Sesilia’s life. Hopefully, we will be able to pay for her education. And, hopefully, this will enable her to find her own place in the world. We dream one day of visiting her in her village and saying hello properly. In the meantime, we enjoy sending her the occasional photograph and letter and receiving letters from her, translated into English by one of the charity workers.

 

  

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Who Am I? Part 2 Ladies Who Lunch

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Conor Byrne  |  May 17, 2008 at 8:33 am

    You are right I did enjoy this. I have the same problem with the bag for lifes, they are breeding, I dont just leave them at home, sometimes they are in the boot of my car, I go in to do my shopping, then at the check-out…no bag!! I think though charging us for the plastic bags does make you use less of them, and I agree that we should have paper bags instead of the plastic ones anyway. Nice post

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  • 2. Kate  |  April 22, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    It’s interesting you mention the use of paper bags in America. As an American, I can tell you that it’s a rare day my items are placed in paper bags. Everything is placed in plastic bags unless you specifically ask for paper–and most people don’t.

    I’d also recommend Children International to you. The children in need of sponsorship come from a variety of countries. At the moment I sponsor two children–one from Guatemala and one from the U.S.–and it has been a joy to watch them grow over the years. The thing about sponsorship is, not only do you help children in need, you also help yourself.

    http://www2.children.org/en/us/Pages/Home.aspx?sid=6A0293D-5F73-4A58-8C55-C021038F2B3B1

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  • 3. Milica  |  April 22, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    Sometimes I forget my canvas bags. It happens. I feel horrible about it and I make an extra effort to not forget next time.
    If I realize that I left them in the car I’ll actually go back out to get them.

    Most of the time plastic bags are not recycled because it costs more to recycle them than it does to produce them.
    They end up in landfills or blown into the ocean. Are you aware of the Texas-sized mass of plastic bags between California and Hawaii?
    Also, plastic has yet to be shown to biodegrade (i.e. it never biodegrades), the pieces just get smaller and smaller and smaller. The smaller the pieces get, the lower on the food chain the animals it effects are and the more organisms are effected in turn.

    You’re right about paper bags being more recycleable but deforestation is a big problem too.

    Canvas bags are the best solution. Please try to remember them.

    Also, the paper cartons for chinese food are coated in a wax and (*I’m pretty sure*) they’re not recyclable. The food is usually delivered in a plastic bag with the rice-stuffs in a carton, the liquids and sauces in a plastic container, a collection of various sauces in plastic pouches, a set of wooden chopsticks and a set of plastic dinnerware.

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  • 4. acseverson  |  April 22, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    It was very hard for me to get into the habit of bringing my own bags to the grocery store, but eventually it became like second nature. If ever I do find myself without one, I do ask for paper bags. I have always hated the plastic bags – they hurt your hands carrying them when they are full. And, the check-out people only put four items per bag max, and ground beef or chicken automatically gets its own bag – they won’t put anything else in that bag! Like it’s radioactive or something!

    Wire hangers annoy the ever lovin’ crap out of me, too.

    Thanks for the comment on my blog!

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  • 5. biancaeglinton  |  March 3, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    This is brilliant! It’s true that the people who work in supermarkets look at you as if you have commited a lethal crime against the environment when you tell them you don’t have your own bags with you.

    Now that Asda are forcing these things on me, I’m running out of the normal plastic bags to line my bin with for my non-recycable waste, it’s so frustrating!

    I too have been victim to the paper box thieves, I have twice requested a new one from the council and I’m still waiting! Thanks for drawing my attention to your blog, you make some really good points on the matter.

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  • 6. deathstairs  |  October 11, 2011 at 10:19 am

    Nice post. i literally just wrote about ‘The Life of a Bag for Life’ on my blog. See here: http://kylejwilkins.wordpress.com/2011/10/11/the-life-of-a-bag-for-life/

    It’s very short, but basically agreeing with you!

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  • 7. Liz Terry  |  March 13, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    Thank you, I did enjoy reading this. I have to agree with other comments, however. You really need to try and remember your bags. My partner and I keep some in the car and one “bag bag” in each of our handbags. The damaging effects of plastic are too important to ignore.
    On a more positive note, I too sponsor a child through World Vision. I am, sadly, unable to have my own children, and sponsoring Habsatou has made me feel like I have a daughter. Watching her grow has been a privilege.

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