The average plastic bag is repurposed when you get home with it - you use it to line little bins around the house, to take lunch to work in, to put wet bathers in after the beach or pool, to pick up dog poo, and so on. What is going to happen to these parts of our life when bags are phased out?
- Take away the small bins and just use one large on in the kitchen, still lined with a plastic bag. Increase use of plastic bags as we won't reduce our volume of rubbish, but just concentrate it in one place.
- Get a bag of some description to take lunch to work in. Decrease frugality as these will wear out, and will need maintenance and cleaning, and may get lost / left behind.
- Wet items need coralling still, so more consumption to replace this use.
- Dog poo collection drops as people (who from my observation are RUDELY incapable of collecting their dog's turds anyway) reduce the amount of poo that is collected unless they are near a bin (which have been removed because they are terrorist threats) and aren't carrying a pooper scooper.
Giving up the plastic bag is simple and pathetic and ineffective and such a lovely case of greenwashing. If the reasons people were saying to ban plastic bags actually had anything to do with the impact that they have on marine life, then I'd be all ears and would bang that drum! But most people are completely unaware of the impact that these have, because the 6 pack plastic beer can holders have been phased out here in Australia and few people think it's a problem anymore.
And for that matter - what do you think the reusable bags are made out of? They are made out of plastics. If they're made from recycled plastic, then that's a lot of energy and water involved in recycling plastic into something else. The bags also have to be shipped from point A (you) to point B (depot) to point C (consolidation) to point D (export) to point E (recycling) to point F (packing) and back to you... which is a bigger impact on greenhouse gasses than just using more bags. And then consider that a plastic bag and a reusable bag hold around about half and twice the amount respectively, but the reusable bag weighs more than twice the others and is BIGGER, so transport costs are higher anyway!
Precisely how green are these things then? Not very, I think.
On the other hand, by removing plastic bags from every shop, you are perhaps forcing more people to think about their impact on the environment. In theory, anyway, as your average pleb is completely ignorant to peak oil, or the impact we are having on biodiversity or resilience in our environment. Removing bags isn't going to reduce consumption, but will increase the amount of $$ we are spending on appearing to be conscious of our impact.
- And as as aside, at The House of Bun, we have not had bags for 4 or so years, and sell reusable bags (the green ones rock as they are huge and have a reinforced bottom and are square based, whereas the red ones are like a beach bag / tote in construction) bags but still have people bitch about not having bags. We have boxes that are availbale to any customer to pack their purchases in, and still people bitch because they don't have a bag to put things in. But funnily enough, we do get a lot of people who are moving house and want to come to us to get free boxes to move in. I can remember doing that when I first moved house 10 years ago, and now no other store has a box coralle at the front of the store for boxes. Will we see a return to this?