Taking Stock - October 19, 2015

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Well, it’s finally happened – civilisation as we know it has ended.

That, at least, is the impression I get each and every time I hear somebody talking about their shopping.

Who would have thought that charging five pence for every plastic carrier bag would have been cause for such consternation and outrage.

There are, after all, bigger problems in the world – a few pence over plastic carrier bags doesn’t really compare to, say, the refugee crisis in the middle east.

But something which once was free now isn’t, and that, it seems turns a few of us into irrational wrecks.

Take, for example, those who decided instead of shelling out five pence at the checkout, they’d take home their basket instead.

It’s become such a problem in areas of Manchester that supermarkets are having to deploy security tags to stop people taking home a new all metal carrier.

Those more savvy shoppers have been splashing out a little more to get themselves a ‘bag for life’ – life in this instance varying in length from several years to the duration of a second big shop.

As a result, every shopping trip now starts at home, calculating just how many bags you need to stuff into the car – a figure which is always one-less than actually required by the time you reach the checkout.

I am, of course, useless at remembering to take my ‘bag for life’ – there’s a hefty stockpile building up in the cupboard underneath the sink.

But, I won’t deny, my plastic bag usage has reduced significantly in the last few weeks.

And it had to.

Supermarket bags take lifetimes to break down, and we can’t keep clogging up the planet just because it’s convenient for carrying home lunch.

The carrier bag charge really isn’t the end of civilisation as we know it.

Indeed, it’s probably one of the most civilised decisions we’ve made in years.