It's been a few weeks since we need to pay for our plastic bags in the UK and it's amazing how much of a topic it's been... literally everywhere. I don't think most people realized how far the plastic bag had made its way into our lives. I don't think I did.
For some reason I had thought the plastic bag was only going to cost me 5p in a supermarket. I hadn't thought any further then that at all and so it seems ; many others with me. I also never thought a simple, fresh, new plastic bag could have such a psychological effect on us all.
I used to reuse my free plastic bags: for dog-poo and as bin liners... or if I had collected many, I would give them to a local charity where they needed them. Quickly I became aware of now having to buy bin liners and bags for doggy duty, and how awesome that is for the environment. I also realized how lazy I had become over time and how some of my re-use wasn't that environmentally friendly at all.
In the supermarket the other day, I was talking to the lady behind the till, telling her of my experience and asking her if she'd had a lot of 'stick' for the 'dreaded' 5p-bag rule. I could imagine she'd been dealing with a lot of complaints from customers. Instead of telling me how much she'd been dealing with that, she told me her own plastic bag awareness story: 'I went shopping this weekend and for a while I had been looking forward to buying myself a new pair of shoes', she said. 'So I finally went to buy them. Funny enough I didn't feel very happy with them at all without the new plastic bag to carry them in. In fact it took a lot more joy out of the whole shopping experience then I ever thought it could have."
She kept repeating how she didn't enjoy her new shoes at all, not like this... it obviously had struck a massive cord. (I never would've thought that a fresh new bag around the shoebox would be able to kill any joy at all, but it did.. and somewhere deep down it made sense...)
I listened to her story in surprise while packing my groceries in my home brought plastic bag, thinking: "so why didn't you go back and buy that 5p bag, once you realized that that little 5p plastic bag would've given you such joy? It sounds to me like that would be money well spent!"
I never got to ask her this question as she just kept repeating how much less she liked shopping now. I tried to say that it was just a little plastic bag and that it was so much better for the earth if we used them less... but that didn't seem to matter that much yet.
She replied with that she was looking forward to the paper bags that were in the making though... when I pointed out that trees were being taken down for those she didn't look that happy! It felt that to her it was the principle to not have to pay for the bag, and that principle kept her stuck in her unhappiness. While in reality, just paying for that little pleasure would be worth it. I went shopping for clothes a few days after and had no problem paying 5p for a bag. Why?
- Because I know the money goes to charity,
- I know it's fantastic for the environment
- I now save my bags and reuse to shop with
- It is now a conscious choice to want a plastic bag or not and awareness is always a good thing.
- I think it's an all-round fantastic idea whether we like it or not, this 5p thing is way bigger then just us.
- Because we are spoilt and lazy (me too) and that attitude is quickly destroying our beautiful planet.
When I had to go out for some new shoes a few days later, I decided to put them in the bag that I had with me. I must admit that it didn't feel the same at all to put them in an old bag, without any further packaging. I remember always having complained about how wasteful it is to have separate new bags for everything we buy and here I was still experiencing that it wasn't the same without that new bag. Doing groceries is a re-used bag somehow isn't any problem whatsoever. Who would've thought this could be the case.
The 5p plastic bag 'depression' is a fantastic awareness maker, this 'tiny little' change has a massive and fantastic impact on the things we take for granted and the things we find normal and how much more they give us then we realized and how paying 5p for that extra happiness is worth it for us and for the beautiful planet that is hosting our existence. Any change can be a little hard but if it opens your eyes to something, to anything... it's a worthwhile change. Don't you agree?
Do you have any "plastic bag" eye-openers, do comment underneath? I would love to read them!
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