Bags For Life Or Bag For The Week?

I found this interesting article online about supermarket shopping bags.

https://getpocket.com/explore/item/reusable-plastic-shopping-bags-are-actually-making-the-problem-worse-not-better?utm_source=pocket-newtab-global-en-GB

When compulsory charges for plastic carrier bags were introduced, most large retailers offered the option of the more expensive ‘Bag For Life’. The cost for these can range from 20p, to over £1, depending on the shop, and the size of the bags. The idea was to cut plastic waste, as the shop would replace your ‘Bag for life’ once it had split, or the handles had broken. The replacement was free, and the shop would arrange for proper recycling of the damaged bag.

The bigger, thicker bags use much more plastic in their manufacture, and it seems shoppers are not deterred by having to pay for them after all. Very few are taken back to the shops for replacement, and many shoppers regularly fail to reuse them when buying more groceries on the next shopping trip. They just buy more new ones instead. So most bags for life last little longer than one week, often dumped into the household rubbish where they once again become a problem.

I have a woven basket, and three heavy shopping bags that I have used for almost 10 years. I never forget to take them when I go shopping, and never have to buy any replacements until they literally fall to bits.

It seems we still have a long way to go when it comes to plastic bags in this country.

59 thoughts on “Bags For Life Or Bag For The Week?

  1. Here we have to pay for the plastic bags too, but there is no replacement offered. As they are not expensive – only 20 Eurocent per bag – they were thrown away like before. ;-/
    I always look for a box in the store, and use it as packaging (carried under my arm). Lol xx Michael

    Liked by 2 people

  2. We are on Ikea bags here, probably five plus years old and made from strong recycled plastic with a very large capacity. Gosia even made some lightweight bags to put loose fruit and veg in.
    I remember reading that the guy who invented the plastic bag intended it to be used over and over again and he kept one in his pocket at all times so he had one to hand. It’s just a shame humans are so crap at remembering.
    Ban the bag, or, as is more likely, make them out of something that degrades naturally/ If you cant change peoples habits then change the harm they do.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I read they could be made from corn starch, just as strong as plastic, and 100% biodegradeable. Surprised nobody has caught on to that. (I just checked, and it seems some companies have.)
      https://www.ukpackaging.com/degradable-white-vest-carrier-bags-degradable-white-hd-vest-carrier-bags-325x475x575mm-18mu?gclid=Cj0KCQjw16KFBhCgARIsALB0g8KstzyXg3lmtFOGRdwexydOCP3mwm2vJtWcd_ttLyQS7pAB2lpmeEYaAnBOEALw_wcB
      The IKEA bags are good to keep, and should last for decades.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pete,
    Before the invention of plastic ‘bags for life’ I like many people had a plastic bag full of other plastic bags. These were slightly too flimsy to use more than once or twice but in good enough condition not to want to throw them out. I moved on to using robust hessian bags to do my bit.
    During lockdown I arranged a few home deliveries from Iceland. My order always arrived delivered in many bags for life.
    I now have a bag for life full of bags for life.
    I’m not sure this was thought through.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Cheers, Keith. I have never had any food shopping delivered. Going to the supermarket is my version of a ‘day out’ now. But I still have bags full of bags, stored under the sink. Then Julie has bags full of bags in her car, and that’s all on top of my woven basket and three old sturdy bags.
      We are no longer a nation of shopkeepers, but a nation of bag hoarders. Somebody should tell Napoleon. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. When plastic bags were banned in South Africa almost 2 decades AGO, Pick ‘n Pay brought in a typer pf constituted woven paper bags. foldable but with a flat bottom. They were so popular there was a waiting list for them! Some were even stolen from unattended trolleys. I still use mine today 12 years later!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Hi Pete, I am surprised to read this. I thought most Brits were very conscious of plastic pollution. We also have long life bags which we have been using for a number of years. We put them in the car after we empty them so we can’t forget them.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I do see about 60% of people taking their own bags to the supermarket here. But nationally, that figure is still much lower, Robbie. Especially in larger towns and big cities.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

  6. I myself am guilty of buying the bags and forgetting them with at home or in the car. I agree this an issue and something we need to address on an individual level to solve the bigger problem.

    Thank you for this post. It is a look in the mirror for me to see how I need to improve

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Another searingly true observation of modern life. What great off-loaders we humans are. Non-accountability is our crowning achievement. We will continue blaming third party (though human-invented) plastic for our crimes against the planet; nothing is our fault these days. BTW I hate shopping!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t mind shopping, Pippa. It is a welcome break from the daily routine for me. As long as it doesn’t involve going to shopping malls in Norwich, trying to find a parking space, and then paying a small fortune for the privilege.
      Best wishes, Pete. xx

      Like

  8. Pete, we have the same situation here…I see many people re-use their bags as I do all the time, but it’s a great point about using so much more to create something that doesn’t get used “so much more!”

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Yes. For years now, I’ve used bags produced for World Wildlife Fund, assuming this was a good thing but lately I’ve been reading what you said about how much it takes to produce these things, so then I wonder, what else am I doing that I shouldn’t be? I feel that things are so out of control, what hope is there? But I am a born pessimist.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. We use, or rather were used to use, cloth bags [we have quite a supply in our car] nearly all the time – until Covid came. Now that we do our shopping curbside [we order online and the goods are delivered to us waiting in our car outside the store(s)] everything comes in plastic bags, and sometimes just one single small item in one bag. We are horrified by this, but unless we’re willing to go into the stores we won’t be able to change that.
    Best,
    Pit

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I have been into the supermarket every week since Covid started, Pit. The trolleys are cleaned, hand sanitiser is available, and everyone wears a mask. I never had an issue with going inside, and (so far) I am still alive! 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I’ve seen a similar article or post too about how these reuseable bags were supposed to help the issue but ended up being a new kind of problem… At the very least I try to make sure I don’t make any plastic that I have to bring into the home a single-use item. I always try to find other use for it if I can…

    Liked by 2 people

  12. In South Africa when I first moved there they used brown paper sacks to pack shopping in, strong ones of course. Why can’t we do this now? Like you I have my own bags which I use all the time. I have a hessian bag and a long life bag and wine carrier permanently stored in the boot of my car, just in case. And I have two small cotton bags folded in my handbag. So I never buy plastic bags. But my son was always forgetting to take bags with him when he was here! Fraggle is right in that supermarkets could do more. A lot more. And when I think of all the wasted food that must be thrown away each night it makes me shudder.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There was a youngish-man in front of me in Tesco recently who had no bags, and refused to pay for some. He ended up carrying a huge armful of groceries to his car, dropping items on the way out of the shop. I don’t understand why so many men are resistant to taking their own bags when they go shopping.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

  13. In India, Tissue bags have replaced plastic bags in shopping arcades in most places. But the plastic inside garment box, and on the box for shiny finish, plastic film around pastries, muffins and cakes makes no sense to me.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I found this news deeply depressing. We have a ton of these bags in our house and whilst my husband and I reuse them, I cannot persuade my son to do so. But I refuse to throw them out

    Liked by 2 people

    1. We keep them in our cars just in case of any unexpected purchases. I have exchanged damaged ones at Tesco in the past, and have never thrown one in the bin as yet.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

  15. I’ve got a collection of heavy duty bags in the car boot, haven’t had to buy one since I don’t know when. What annoys me more is all the plastic used in packaging food, ridiculous and unnecessary.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes, very true. Things like two pastries in a huge plastic box, and bananas and cucumbers wrapped in plastic bags. All the shops and manufacturers need to do a lot more about that.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Mossisons sell paper carrier bags for 20p but they are just not strong enough to hold much shopping. If all bags were £1 that might help a great deal, until everyone got used to them being £1 and stopped worrying about an extra quid on the shopping bill.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

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