Sunday, October 08, 2006

I have recently moved into a room chez C, M and K in Melbourne. Their laundry is a testament to the futility and stupidity of supermarket plastic bag banning policies.

"Every bag counts"

This pile of useless bag-rubbish stuffed away in a corner is the result of countless supermarket shopping trips of the kind where one is denied a free plastic bag at the checkout only to be bullied into purchasing a bulky and awkwardly shaped "enviro-bag" . After such anabashed affrontery, the supermarket's self-congratulatory message on the bag (claiming that forcing you to buy yet another useless item is "saving the environment") constitutes importunity of the highest order.

Plastic supermarket bags have their place. They are eminently practical, their uses not limited to carrying shopping home. I, like many, have employed them for lining rubbish bins and filling up unused cupboards. I once even found plastic bags handy for making a grown man cry. We were in the fruit and veg section and he ordered me to stop putting my apples in a bag, on the grounds that one day a dolphin might get its nose stuck in the bag and die. My inspired grabbing of handfuls of plastic bags to dramatise a dolphin's hypothetical death throes through the medium of a hastily improvised bag puppet theatre inspired tears. Perhaps tears of anger more than of pathos, but nonetheless clearly the result of an affective mise-en-scène. Again, all thanks to the versatility of the humble plastic supermarket bag.

Further to the question of animal and fish welfare, I really don't see how doing away with these bags helps dolphins at all. At least with a lightweight, transparent plastic bag on the head your average dolphin has a hope of seeing where it's swimming, and perhaps even being a little hydro-dynamic. With one of these new heavy and opaque "enviro bag" things over one's snout one would be completely blinded, increasing one's chances of bumping right into a japanese fishing fleet.



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