Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Blight of the plastic bag

It's difficult to say exactly why plastic carrier bags are probably my biggest bugbear in life. Perhaps it's something to do with their average usage being 20 minutes whilst they take 1,000 years to decompose. Maybe it has something to do with observing workers at lunchtime buying a single sandwich, having it put in a plastic bag, getting back to their desk and immediately binning the bag (average use: two minutes; and then imagining the same scenario in every office all over the world and silently shuddering). Maybe it has to do with the island in the Pacific ocean twice the size of Texas made entirely of plastic debris (known as the Great Pacific garbage patch). Or supermarkets just not caring at all; for them it's free advertising*. They litter our city, countryside and beaches (seventy of them littering every mile, apparently**). Or just that they're so ugly (and I hate the rustling sound of them!).

Anyway, if charging five pence per bag (the law to be introduced next year in the UK) doesn't exactly sound like a huge victory, it should be remembered that the scheme has worked in Ireland for some years, where the five pence charge resulted in a three-quarter drop in usage. It highlights nicely the utter selfishness of humankind, only willing to assist in saving the planet when it affects their purse.

Previously on Barnflakes:
Don't blame us

*Did I imagine this? A few months ago I saw someone walking with a French Connection carrier bag with the words BAG 30% ADVERTISING 70% written boldly across it. I thought to myself 'how true' but can't find any evidence of it online now. You'll have to take my word for it.

**It's not often that I agree with the Daily Mail, but all my facts are taken from an article in this very publication. They say they have been campaigning for the last six years to get plastic bags banned. Well, good on them, though if their readership actually took any notice of the articles and reduced their bag usage, it would probably solve half the problem in one fell swoop.

Watch Ramin Bahrani's wonderful short film Plastic Bag, with a voice over by Werner Herzog.

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