Grocery Bags – Paying The Price For Reform

IMG_1424 [1024x768]Yesterday, I was standing in the checkout line at the supermarket. Not a very inspiring place to be and I was passing the time, observing the habits of my fellow shoppers. It occurred to me that almost every one of them was buying those plastic shopping bags …. you know the ones …. 15c a pop and as many as you need.

Thinking about it, I realised it’s been almost three years since those nasty, disposable grocery bags were banned here in Tasmania. As I recall, the ban was the result of a steadfast campaign by the environment movement (whoever they are) and was big-heartedly agreed to by the supermarket duopoly.

Well, what a total wank!

I see people BUYING the new plastic bags by the trolley load ….. 15c a go and each bag seems to be about ten times the mass (and the biological disaster) of the old fashioned, free, evil, disposable bags! The ‘environment movement’ have apparently dissolved into the mist and the supermarket is laughing all the way to the bank!

Back in the days of the old, free bags, we used them for all manner of things around the house. They made great bin liners and were excellent storage containers for any tote task that came up. Wonderful for holding soiled baby nappies (diapers) too. they were so useful, they were almost universally appreciated. Arty folks even made wonderful dispensers to store them in, while they awaited their next assignment.

But those wonderful environmentalists knew better and resolved to save us from ourselves and the mountains of evil pollution that the disposable grocery bag was creating. And the supermarkets graciously gave in to the demand to stop giving away disposable grocery bags. Everyone was happy, eh?

Well at my house, we accepted our fate and set about sewing a dozen grocery bags from recycled cloth. We made them to the right dimensions to suit the checkout frames that the supermarkets use and we even included little tags so the bags could be held on the frames. We even consulted with checkout staff to make sure we had the design down pat. And we’ve been using those same, original bags ever since …. coming up for three years and a shopping trip every fortnight.  The checkout staff still comment on our bags.

And just like their free and disposable predecessors, we find ourselves pressing them into all kinds of alternative carrying duties. When they get a bit grubby, we toss them into the washing machine and they are as good as new. We’ve only had one single bag tear in all that time and that was because the fabric used was probably too old and deteriorated when the bag was sewn.

I thought that, with the new emphasis on re-usable bags, there was bound to be an opportunity to make a few dollars, selling our home-made grocery bags. Once I got the techniques down, I could produce a bag in about an hour. We worked out that the materials were costing about 50 cents. So I made up a heap of bags, listed them on Ebay and sat back and waited to become rich.

Well guess what? At $5.00 per bag, almost nobody was interested in buying them. But standing in that line yesterday, watching my fellow shoppers …… I saw almost nobody re-using their plastic shopping bags from previous trips. They were almost all buying new ones! And you can’t use these new bags for the myriad conveniences that the old ones met. You can’t tie them up and seal them. You can’t put your dirty baby nappies in them …. so now you buy perfumed, plastic, disposable nappy bags and you put your dirty, disposable nappies in those bags. I’m not sure what happens to the re-usable grocery bags that never seem to get re-used. I think there must be a huge recycling plant in the sky … where almost new but slightly used, non-disposable grocery bags get sent.

I DO know a couple of things though. I know that the planet is no better off for the ban on disposable shopping bags. I know my fellow shoppers are too lazy and too stupid to re-use their grocery bags. They’d rather pay an extra dollar or two, every single time they do their grocery shopping. I know that the supermarket is laughing, all the way to the bank. And I know the crusader rabbits in the environment movement don’t give a damn. They must be a mob of total warts who have by now, attached themselves to some other ‘crusade’ …… otherwise they’d be campaigning against the sale of plastic grocery bags …. and making everybody buy cloth or paper ones!

When the decision was made to ban the old, disposable grocery bags, I wailed loud and long about the stupidity, the short-sightedness and the injustice of the crusader rabbit mob, telling the rest of us how we had to carry our shopping. No-one else seemed to take it so personally. Now, three years on, I’m the only person I know who has recycled and re-usable cloth grocery bags. Everyone else is using plastic …….. to buy plastic bags.

As our US friends so like to say …… go figure!

Andrew Caddle 2016-08-26



2 thoughts on “Grocery Bags – Paying The Price For Reform

  1. The people of Mitchel lQld.4465 Have been making and giving fabric bags away for use at the local Foodworks, our program is to flood the area with them, many bags are coming back to a box at the the store for re-use. Many have been keept by shoppers and are reused regularly. Also we don’t mind if the Tourist takes one on to their next destination … as long as they keep using them. We hope the Monkey see Monkey do programm will spreed.!

    • Hi Hazel and thank you for your comment. It is about three years ago now, that I made our very first batch of shopping bags. In all that time, we only ever had one bag that failed slightly and that was simply because the recycled fabric that I used was simply too old. Meanwhile, we have been amazed at just how handy these things are, not just for shopping but for countless other purposes. Everything from general purpose carry bags, rubbish bag for the car and even fish bags when I get out in the boat. They wash easily and seem to last forever.

      Meanwhile, from what I’ve observed at the supermarket, the only winner from the campaign to phase out free shopping bags is ….. the supermarket ….. which is doing a roaring trade in pay-for bags that obviously contain a greater volume of toxic product, than did the old disposable jobs.

      I think your campaign to educate shoppers by making cloth bags available is a grand idea.

      Thanks again, for taking the time to comment.



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