Deep thoughts about…carrier bags

I was in a large DIY store last night, shopping for paint samples and varnish etc… We are in the middle of DIY ‘heaven’ at the moment – four rooms plus our hallway being done hence me writing this blog from a room piled high with all the contents of the other rooms!

As I went to check out, a friendly assistant was helping pack my goods. As he reached for the third bag, I said “Don’t worry, we can get it all in two”. He looked surprised and I explained that I try to use as few carrier bags as possible. He looked even more surprised and asked why. I told him how, 3 years ago, my husband read an article that described how the bottom of the sea is clogged up with carrier bags and that this was having an awful knock on effect on sea creatures, plankton and oxygen levels in the atmosphere – ie the whole of the planet. Since then, I take my own bags to the supermarket, use my rucksack and refuse bags from shops unless its impossible to carry what I have brought without them.

By this point, another assistant joined the conversation. “Are you an environmentalist then?” he asked.

Well, I’ve never thought of myself with that label. But I am increasingly trying to do my part and change my lifestyle so that I am planet-friendly rather than planet-indifferent or worse .

So, I explained to my friendly assistant that we have done things like refuse to buy a second car, switched electricity suppliers to Ecotricity (who, for every unit of electricity we use, put a unit into the national grid that comes only from wind energy – so the more people switch to them the less fossil fuel energy is supplied to the national grid).

By this point their chins were almost on the floor. I have to say that I was equally surprised by their surprise. Our friendly exchange continued (by now other customers were listening in). Then came the nub of it. “Why do you do it?” asked one of them. “Because the planet is a beautiful gift and I want to treat it with the respect a beautiful gift deserves”, I replied. “But its already ruined, so why bother?” he asked.”Simple really, because to not care would be to show contempt to both the giver of the gift and to the human beings who are to inherit the gift when I am gone”. We ended the conversations with friendly goodbye’s and I was left musing on how weird it is that the simple act of refusing a carrier bag is seen as counter-cultural. At our local corner shop we are now known as ‘the people who refuse carrier bags’. Ha! Now that’s a label I can wear with pride…

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