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Carrier bags - John C. Kirk

Aug. 8th, 2008

01:14 am - Carrier bags

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There's been a trend recently for shops to reduce the number of carrier bags that they give out. I think that's a good idea, and I normally carry a few empty bags in my rucksack so that I can reuse them. However, looking at the big supermarket chains, some seem to have a better grasp on the logistics than others.

* Asda - I went there a few days ago (4th August), and they had signs up at every till saying that they would no longer give out carrier bags after 1st August; instead, people can buy a "Bag for life" (heavy duty plastic). Since I reuse my normal bags, I've never bothered to buy the stronger ones, but this idea has potential. It was slightly undercut by the fact that all the tills were still giving out the normal bags to customers, but I'm hoping that they just want to use up their existing stock.

* Sainsbury's - they started a new policy recently, where you earn 1 Nectar point for each bag that you reuse. This is the carrot rather than the stick, and it is slightly open to abuse (e.g. if I decide to double wrap everything even when I don't need to), but if it gets people into the habit of carrying empty bags with them then it's worthwhile.

* Tesco, Somerfield - at my local stores, the tills are a bit like a post office counter, i.e. you approach and then go back the way you came, rather than walking through to the other side. That means that there's a much smaller space available for bagging; it's ok if the staff fill new bags for you, since they can swipe items and put them straight into the bag, but it's much harder to reuse my own bags because I have to take the items off the counter and fill the bag that I'm holding in the air. That's a bit cumbersome, and because I'm working one handed I can't really keep up with them. Ideally, I could just give my empty bags to the cashier, but none of their staff seem to be particularly enthusiastic. In fairness, they may have more space available in other branches, but they certainly don't seem to have any company-wide policy about reducing the number of bags they use.

Ah well, I'll keep trying to do my bit, and I'm more likely to shop at the stores that make it easier for me.

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From:rileen
Date:August 8th, 2008 07:05 am (UTC)
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Here in Germany, the supermarkets charge 10-15 cents for a bag (the simplest kind, and more for bigger/sturdier ones). I think that's a very simple and effective measure.
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From:susannahf
Date:August 8th, 2008 07:10 am (UTC)
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Tesco's have actually been giving out "green" clubcard points for reusing bags for years. I regularly get clubcard vouchers for "Bags for Life" from them too.
I agree that shops with "post-office" queues (here, it's Sainsbury rather than Tesco) do make it difficult to reuse bags, but I find that I can pack my bag myself without too much difficulty. Of course, it's annoying when the cashier insists in putting your stuff into a carrier when it's clear that you're taking it back out to put it in your bag.
Oh, and btw, the "double-bagging" doesn't get you extra points. They tend to give you as many points as bags that you would have used if you used carriers. So I frequently get multiple points for using my big wheelie bag.
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From:shuripentu
Date:August 8th, 2008 06:11 pm (UTC)
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They also give a points estimate for the use of non-carrier bags? Cool. *will remember to poke them next time she does a shop* We always get our shopping in rucksacks since it's just the most efficient way to carry heavy loads long distances. I never understood the concept of carrying all your shopping in your hands, unless you're specifically after really fantastic forearms. :D
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From:johnckirk
Date:August 8th, 2008 06:19 pm (UTC)
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I generally have more shopping than will fit in my rucksack (since it's not designed for camping trips), and if I come back by bus then I don't have to carry the stuff very far. Having said that, I'm less interested in my forearms, and more concerned about losing circulation in my fingers!
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From:shuripentu
Date:August 8th, 2008 06:26 pm (UTC)
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We also use cloth carrier bags for any overflow, particularly of light and bulky items like Kleenex. :)
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From:johnckirk
Date:August 8th, 2008 06:16 pm (UTC)
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That's interesting to know about Tesco's, thanks - the guy at the checkout asked me whether I had a clubcard, but I didn't have it to hand, so I didn't realise I'd get points that way.

As for Sainsbury's, whenever I go there they ask me how many bags I've reused; I normally double-bag if I have heavy items in there (e.g. a couple of 2L bottles of Coke), so it's a bit of a judgement call as to when it's absolutely necessary.
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From:totherme
Date:August 8th, 2008 09:49 am (UTC)
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I think the division between "post office counter" and "supermarket counter" is nothing to do with the brand of the supermarket, and all to do with the size of the supermarket.

When I go into a "tesco metro" or whatever, I tend to smile at the cashier, say "No need for any bags for me", and plonk my rucksack down on top of the plastic bags. That usually works fine.
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From:susannahf
Date:August 8th, 2008 11:33 am (UTC)
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Indeed. Although I have had people at the chronically badly-organised and understaffed "sainsbury local" in oxford react to that by pulling a new plastic bag from the dispenser, and filling it on the weighing/scanning bit.
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