Why I don’t support plastic bag bans

Places and organisations who ban plastic bags are proud, and there are campaigns to make these bans spread further.

Actually, it is unnecessary and frankly, irritating, and does not achieve what they claim.

Many of us use plastic bags from shops to line our rubbish bins with – or else we have to go out and pay for binliners. I’ve not lived under any council that allows you to put out your general rubbish without using a bag. Binliners look stronger and therefore biodegrade most slowly and cause more animal harm.

I’ll come back to animal harm from plastic in a minute. What I’d like to continue with is the alternative for shoppers if we do not use plastic bags. Shops want us to impulse buy and to purchase more than we planned. I usually do take a bag with me but find I sometimes shop unexpectedly or that I cannot guess what will fit in my bag. Sometimes the bag is already full by the time I arrive, sometimes it has things in it which need to be kept separate – eg bananas on top of books; stationery to keep flat; a fragile gift.

The cost once again is being passed to the customer to buy these jute bags, somewhat more expensive than bags for life (eg £5 compared to 10p). And what will happen? – people will have cupboards spilling full of jute bags instead of carriers which they will forget to bring. And jute is NOT waterproof and not good when you need to throw out something horrible (like unexpected sickness or mud or toiletry needs).

When people, such as Animal Aid, claim that animals are hurt by plastic bags, my thought is – how are the animals getting near the plastic bags? This comes down to responsible refuse, not the bags themselves. I understood that all plastic bags are now biodegradable and I’ve seen one do so in less than a year. Plastic should not be dumped in the sea or anywhere that animals can get at it. If everyone kept their foodscraps separate then there would be no need for animals to rummage in plastic rubbish and get harmed.

I am more concerned about the thicker plastic used in things like bottles and trays which is rarely recyclable, and the unnecessary use of it around things like fruit and veg and individual biscuits. I’ve not heard any campaigns on that.

I also mind that this is another control on the people.

I think charging for plastic bags is also a bit pointless.

What I’d like to see is people not taking unnecessary bags and trying to use old ones where they can. When I last worked in retail, long before bag bans were fashionable, I asked if customers NEEDED a bag. I felt cross at a mum who said her kids needed to learn  responsibility and to have a bag each for the tiny item they’d bought. I wish I’d been at liberty to say, wouldn’t responsibility be better in not taking unnecessary bags?

I’d like end by saying that some of the orgs propagating a bag ban support actions which I do not and consider far more shocking. Animal Aid is extreme enough to advocate we all go vegan and sound slightly sixth form heady passionate in many of their campaigns. But they do support spaying and neutering – taking intimate and important parts of animal who can’t give permission and permanently altering them because another type of being doesn’t want more of them in the world. This is not necessary for wild animals – nature looks after itself. Who are we to say what comes into the world, what can be managed, what is worth having and what isn’t?

For that reason, I will not be supporting them – even though they are the makers of purple poppies –

which leads nicely into my next post, for Nov 11th

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