Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Plastic fantastic

I search the kitchen yet another time, opening draws and slamming them shut again, desperately searching for that brash red and white Tesco’s logo, the soft green and gold hues of Booths, or the old familiar ‘Asda price’ carrier. Nothing. Not one single sniff of a bag. It used to be so different. In the days BG (before Green) we had carrier bags full of carrier bags hanging from the walls. Every crevice or shelf in the utilities room with stuffed with them; carrier bag heaven, in a long sock shaped holder. Now we have four ‘bags for life’ that even the Carbonbaby can’t destroy. Only trouble is while I have a bag for life, I don’t have a bag for the bin. As a household we might be fantastic with our plastic, but doing the routine stuff is proving impossible.

My friend turns up with a Tupperware tub she’s bought for me after listening to me moaning on about having nothing to wrap the sandwiches in. “Did you get a bag with it?” I ask her eagerly. She looks at me strangely, “Surely the point of the Tupperware is to avoid using a bag.” But I don’t reply; I’m routing through the cupboard again, trying to find any old scraggy bit of plastic to line the bin with. I give up and leave a pile of rubbish by the sink. I will have to go foraging.

I start with the village shop. I don’t need anything, but bundle a pile of things onto the counter anyway. But no one asks if I want a bag, and I’m too embarrassed to ask for one. So I pile some more things onto the counter. Eventually the balance is tipped and I’m offered the precious carrier. But just as I’m about to accept, a neighbour walks in. Now I’m torn. I need that bag. But I also feel I should set an example and refuse the bag. “But it’ s recycled…” I argue with myself, ‘…it’s not new.’ The angel and the devil sit on my shoulders arguing about global warming. “Take the bag,” says the Devil. “Save a polar bear,” says the Angel. Eventually the angel shouts the loudest, “If we got all the carrier bags we use in Britain together and extracted all the energy that are contain in those carrier bags, we can run a sixty watt light bulb for four hundred thousand years, or power Carlisle for the whole year.” She’s right, although I’m not sure what Carlisle has to do with anything. “No thanks I don’t need a bag,” I hear myself say. Aargh. I bundle up twenty five different grocery items, trailing toilet rolls and mushrooms all the way down the street. Back home I avoid the kitchen and dump what’s left of the shopping onto the living room table. Luckily its time to get the kids from school. Perhaps they’ll bring their PE kits home in a plastic bag.

“Are mouses grey?” asks the youngest Carboncopy. “Sometimes,” I reply, “Why?” Because if mouses are grey then there’s a mouse by the sink in the kitchen.” I run helter skelter into the kitchen to find the pile of rubbish disturbed and all the bits of food I’m not allowed to compost nibbled around the edges. “That’s it, I can’t stand it any more. I’m going to Tesco,” I shout.

“Don’t forget to take your bags,” say the Carboncopies, running in with four bright blue Bags For Life. “We know you like to save the planet.”