Where national news is concerned, it’s the biggest story to break this October. It’s controversial, it’s all anyone’s talking about and it’s really bad news for shopaholics. Impact Comment investigates how UoN students are handling the carrier-bag-crisis.
When I first heard about the new plastic bag charge I was apathetic. I mean, what’s 5p to a financially irresponsible student? If anything, at a push, I’d have shrugged and suggested that it was possibly a good thing; a way of forcing Britain to be environmentally conscious. However, as of this morning, I’m taking back that impassive stance with a vengeance. I now demand the government give us back our free plastic bags for the sake of my own sanity.
This morning, whilst enjoying a well deserved post-Monday lie-in, I was rudely and brutally awakened by an array of frantic banging. Assuming it was a builder, I was prepared to mask my indignation and suggest a polite peace offering in the form of a cuppa – but I was wrong.
“I say let consumerism win. Let Tesco single-handedly destroy our planet with plastic bags. I need my sleep”
Instead, it was my furious housemate who had just discovered the bag tax included those in a food shop delivery. Fuming, she proceeded to single-handedly take each individual item to the kitchen and whack them violently on the counter-top. It was a racket. If this violent attack against bananas is to continue now we are forced to pay for bags, then I will vehemently fight against this tax. Yes, I’m going against all my idealistic student positions, but I say let consumerism win. Let Tesco single-handedly destroy our planet with plastic bags, I need my sleep.
During my gap year I worked at Waitrose, the middle-class stamping ground where British Crème Fraîche and Artichoke Hearts are part of their Essential range. Many of Britain’s elite take pride in doing their bit for the planet, and bringing their own bags to the supermarket is just part of that. Or at least having the intention of bringing their own bags. When, at the end of scanning they are asked if they would like a bag to carry their shopping, their responses tend to fall in the following range:
“Oh, gosh! I knew I’d forgotten something! I’ll have to be cheeky and take one now, but be sure that I’ll have them with me next time.”
“By Jove, I think I have left them in the car! I shouldn’t think I have time to get them with my Limoncello Italian Gelato melting. I’ll take a bag now, but be sure that I’ll have them with me next time.”
“I’m not sure 5 pence will act as much of a deterrent for someone who’s just bought organic food for their cat”
“Goodness gracious, I think I gave my Bags for Life to the maid for when she does the main grocery shop! I’d better have one, but be sure that I’ll have them with me next time.”
Whatever the excuse provided, in 99% of cases the shopper forgot to bring their own bags with them. It remains to be seen whether charging for a bag will rectify this, although I’m not sure 5 pence will act as much of a deterrent for someone who’s just bought organic food for their cat.
Not only has the price of university gone up, the price of living gone up and the price of food gone up, we now have to pay 5p for a plastic bag. I mean, we’re still not over the death of the 10p Freddo!
All those 5ps spent on bags, in desperate attempts to consume something other than toast, are going to add up.
Remembering to bring a plastic bag isn’t usually top of our priorities either – after finally finishing a long hard day of lectures even choosing whether to get the bus or walk home becomes a major decision.
“If you had any more to spare you would have bought alcohol that was vaguely drinkable”
Let me paint a picture for you. You’re nearly home and suddenly remember you’re meant to be going out tonight and have nothing to pre-drink. You stop off at Sainsbury’s scouring the shelves for the cheapest wine, choosing the Sainsbury’s House Pinot Grigio, or perhaps you’ll mix it up today and go for the Zinfandel?
Your housemate then calls asking if you’re on your way back home, and if so could you please get drinks for them, as they can’t be bothered to move from the sofa even though Sainsbury’s is only a few minutes’ walk from nearly every house in Lenton.
You relent, and at the till ask for their cheapest vodka. Handing over the money, the shop assistant asks you if you would like a bag? No thanks. If you had any money to spare you would have bought alcohol that was vaguely drinkable.
You walk out of the shop carrying your cheap wine and vodka.
Now not only do you look like a cheapskate, but also an alcoholic. Fabulous!
But in all seriousness, when push comes to shove, we can’t really lament the bag tax. Fewer plastic bags means fewer turtles suffocating to death because the plastic resembles their main diet, jellyfish. Fewer plastic bags means less non bio-degradable waste in landfill sites. Fewer plastic bags means less precious fuel is used to produce the god damn things.
Plastic bags are bad.
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Image by Bill McChesney