At least he’s got a bag for life

The law of unintended consequences often comes shopping with me.

I do try to be environmentally-conscious—a task which is somewhat undermined by my air miles balance—and using fewer carrier bags seems like a good start. So I was cheered to see that Marks & Spencer’s have started charging for bags (although the emotional blackmail handed down by the checkout assistants may prove even more effective).

However, I’m rarely so organised that I have a bag with me when I nip into M&S for a Chicken Tikka ready meal. “Do you need a bag?” Well, yes, I’m afraid so.

The choice that remains is between the 5p traditional poly bag, and the mighty 10p bag for life. Now I hope it will not be too bourgeois of me to say that the difference between having 5p, 10p or nothing at all is negligible. So I usually plump for the bag for life, with the added satisfaction that “this bag is for life, it’ll last forever, and I’m saving the environment.”

But as I survey the pile of unreused bags littering my bedroom, I can’t help but wonder at the real cost. These bags are bigger and sturdier than their cheaper counterparts: how much more oil do they require to manufacture, and how much longer do they take to biodegrade?

Is it perhaps to time to increase greatly the charge for bags? If a bag cost £1, I’d make damn sure that I remembered to bring one with me….

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