Do shop owners offer a course in “How to annoy your customers”, I wonder. I dislike shopping at the best of times but an efficient and friendly (even if they’re faking) staff can make the experience bearable. One recent development that reflects government green policy is particularly galling. The dreaded plastic carrier bag has become the red headed step child of shopping.
The government and hence the shop argument goes something like this: Plastic bags are bad for the environment. We should use less bags or the same bags more often. If shops don’t reduce shopping bag use then the government will tax the bags in an effort to force then to be more environmentally conscientious.
The supermarket response to this is to sell “bags for life” and canvas bags and (this is the bit I hate) reduce the quality of the free bags and offer less of them. This leaves the shopper with a bag that splits before you get home or the option to double bag everything thereby increasing bag use. A split bag cannot be reused so it will add to the environmental damage. I don’t know about you but I use my carrier bags for bagging up rubbish before it goes in the bin, for cleaning our the cat box and various sundry tasks that need a bag. I don’t just throw them straight in the bin.
Coupled with the lower quality bag is the new policy that shops seem to have adapted of not providing or offering bags unless you ask for them. I don’t like asking for bags and I don’t like people packing for me. They do it wrong. I want to be given enough bags to pack my shopping properly and I don’t want to talk sacks to the poor checkout girl or boy. I’d rather talk about the weather or the state of the economy or holidays or some crap other than plastic bags. I don’t want to feel like I’m asking for something that should be provided for free.
I have a solution though. An environmentally sound, low cost solution for everyone. Shops should provide reinforced paper bags with card handles, the paper from sustainable forests of course or bags of another material that degrade quickly. Better yet, they should carry the shopping home for me and stop being so annoying.