In California they are banned, and in the UK there is a 5 pence tax on the use of plastic carrier bags, but is it enough and do people really understand the reasons for this?
There are several camps of thought here—those who recycle every single item they can and do carry reusable bags; some who understand, but still can’t be bothered and will pay for a bag on the spot rather than bring one, and the minority who think it’s ridiculous and that plastic bags should be available.
It has changed how people shop, from buying a few items, people trying to carry the baskets to their cars (baskets are now security tagged), or you pay for the hire of a cart or trolley and then unload the shopping into the car. Gone are the days for stocking up plastic bags to use as bin liners, to put wet clothing or shoes in, or laundry.
Sadly people are accustomed to convenient habits, not realizing that it is polluting the planet and also costing companies in producing the bags. In the old days, women would go to market with their shopping baskets and return home with their groceries as there were no plastic bags; the only difference today is that there is a ‘Bag for Life’ available from most stores. Many will replace it for free if it gets damaged, so the cost to the consumer is minimal. However, some people still refuse to invest in one, and continue to pay the 5 pence each time.
A recent story I read on the internet does highlight how people are too lazy to carry a bag, or to understand the premise. A shopper didn’t wish to pay for a bag as she had one in her car (yes, the obvious question is why didn’t she bring it in with her) so took the basket of groceries out and was stopped by security. As she was with a friend one could have gone to get the bag, but they were too lazy to carry it with them—instead they protested. In the end, another customer gave them a bag, but what does it say if people are apathetic to the cause?
I saw another story where in California a woman refused to pay the ten cents for a paper bag and carried the items out in her hand. Instead of learning from it, she had a rant over the rules. When I see stories like this, I wonder what kind of society has humanity devolved into where people rant and protest over something that can easily be resolved? They are laws and regulations to help save the earth, yet humanity seems to be so self-centered that people can only think about the inconvenience.
Does the banning of plastic bags go far enough? Many people do recycle them as liners for bins, which means people will have to start to buy them, so plastic bags will still exist, but not so freely.
Personally I like the fabric cloth shoppers that can look trendy, or the nylon rucksacks that fold down into a square. Invest in them, because you are doing your part in making sure the earth survives for a few more generations—don’t be one of the ignorant ones who don’t care. Even if you do still use a plastic carrier, reuse as often as you can, and only take one in a store if you actually need it. Hopefully the message to be more environmentally aware has sunk in, and has encouraged more people to recycle and be less wasteful.