Lost in London

A look at London and life in general through the eyes of someone who sometimes can't bear to watch.

Monday, September 14, 2009

You old bag

I have to admit: I haven't been particularly environmentally-friendly in my life. As a teenager I would look out of the window on endless car journeys through identical country landscapes and long for the glowing light of a Sainsbury's or McDonald's to break up the monotony. In my twenties I would gleefully throw everything away as soon as I was bored with it, even if it wasn't broken, and glass bottle after glass bottle would be chucked merrily straight into the bin without nary a thought.

In the last few years or so, though, things have changed. Along with the extra fine lines and the greying sides, I'm growing something I never thought I'd see. Yes, I think I'm getting a conscience.

It started slowly. I started to stack bottles by the side of the sink to be taken to the recycling point. I would agonise about what kind of product to get based on whether it had too much packaging or not. And now my attentions have turned to bags. Plastic bags, the scourge of the supermarket. Being anti-bag is nothing new. Various newspapers have been campaigning against them for quite a while and checkout staff have long been trying to put off patrons from loading up their solitary onion in a thick, glossy shopper by a) charging for them and b) offering loyalty card points for bringing your own. I have quite a few of these 'bags for life' as they like to call themselves. When I forget to take them to the supermarket I mentally flagellate myself to a degree that would make an Opus Dei devotee wince. If I forget the bag whe I pop over to the 'local' supermarket- a three-aisle nightmare with queues that stretch to the Norfolk Broads and only one type of everything, all premium brands with sky-high prices- I refuse a plastic bag and play a dangerous game of avoiding A-road traffic while balancing 'ingredients' in my arms, biting my lip in concentration as they wriggle and jiggle like a coughing baby. It's like being on an 'extreme' version of Ready Steady Cook.

Not everyone shares my bag guilt. I went into a well-known supermarket the other day and bought a small, plastic bottle of water (plastic! Again! Why *do* I hate Mother Earth so?) and was offered a free bag for it. This is the same chain that, in other branches when I am buying an obscene amount of groceries for over-inflated prices, charges for bags even if you have no choice but to have one. This isn't just any old double standard, this is a 'world-famous brand' double standard.