Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

You would be off your trolley to want to stump up new bag tax

Alex Attwood
Alex Attwood

Pack up your troubles in your shopping bags and smile, smile, smile. You'll be smiling on the other side of your fizzer when you have to pay 5p for each bag, right enough.

Plastic bags have become emblematic of our era. Our weekend leisure is characterised by hitting the shops and returning home with little bags full of non-essential goods: CDs, DVDs, irresponsible clothing.

I'm getting a message in my earpiece. Folk don't buy CDs and DVDs any more? They stream them on to their computers? I see. I'm not buying this. Music maybe, but surely not films?

I can watch films on my computer and, over the years, have done so a grand total of once. Why would I do that when I have a telly the size of Wales? Besides, my computer is where I work. It's covered in tears, food and distressing memories.

But I digress. The scenario painted above has admittedly been obviated to a degree by this damned recession or neo-recession or never-ending crisis – whatever it is – but you still see plenty of bag people out there returning from expeditions like hunters with their catch.

The carrier bag levy is less than a fortnight away.

Environment Minister Alex Attwood told a packed meeting in his mind: "At the moment we are using around 250m carrier bags each year in Northern Ireland and we need to cut that number drastically to reduce environmental damage." Stopping to acknowledge wild applause and throaty cries of "Well said, Alex!", Mr A continued: "The evidence from other countries shows that a bag levy is a very effective way of doing this.

"Bring your own bag and you will not have to pay the levy."

Big Eck speaks truly. My car boot contains a plethora of bags for each of the stores that I patronise regularly.

However, you don't even have to use the bags sold by the shop you're visiting. It's wickedly nice to flaunt the bags of rival supermarkets or to go into a posh shop with a scuzzy rival's reusables.

Your sturdy bag is something you have to take with you – along with your mobile, reading glasses, wallet and snow shovel – but, once you get the habit into your noggin, you can hang your bags proudly on your trolley or basket and waddle round the store feeling virtuous.

It's even better still that the monies raised will help fund environmental binges.

I dare say there'll be a bit of bureaucracy involved for retailers but, in the case of the big boys with the fat profits, who cares?

Of course, you have to care just a little bit to take part in this sort of thing. It's not a big ask.

I'm constantly amazed at folk who won't recycle or play the tiniest role in giving the planet a bit of breathing space.

Often, it's because they don't trust "them", the people in charge, and suspect furthermore that someone somewhere is "lining their own pockets". Yawnorama.

People who believe this sort of thing should be imprisoned immediately.

That might sound a bit harsh, but it saves the rest of us having to listen to their dumb excuses for not doing their bit.

Get properly bagged up, folks. And remember to duck as you enter the store. That way, you won't bang your halo on the door.

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