The evil of plastic

Safeway seems to be trying to encourage people to use those environmentally-friendly “green” bags instead of the “evil” plastic bags. Which is good. I’m cool with that. I just wish they weren’t being so aggressive about that.

Yesterday, I went shopping at the QVC Safeway, and got some $50 worth of groceries, which were somewhat heavy and bulky. At the cashier, while I’m still busily unloading everything from the baskets, the guy asks me “would you like to buy a green bag?” Hmm, no, thanks, not right now. “How about this ugly-looking reusable plastic bag for 15 cents?” (I’m paraphrasing, of course). No, not really. “Hmm, you see, we’re running out of plastic bags.” I look over to the next position, which is closed, and see a large stack of bags there; I don’t say anything and keep on unloading the groceries.

At this point the guy seems to give up, reaches down and comes back with one plastic bag (smart move; if he had insisted that there weren’t any bags available, I would have given up on the products and walked one block over to Coles). He puts everything he can fit in there, which was about 25% of what I was buying, and then looks at me and says nothing. Realizing I wasn’t going to do anything, he reaches down again and grabs another bag. This repeats twice more, and concludes with all my groceries packed into four (quite heavy) plastic bags.

Now, here’s the interesting part. While this process happened, the next cashier, the one with a stack of bags, opened. Before calling the next customer, the girl picked up all of the bags, put them under her “station” and replaced them with green bags. She then said to the customer (who didn’t see that happening) that they were out of plastic bags, and would he like to buy a green one? No, he wouldn’t. Would he like to put the groceries in his backpack, then? He thought for a second, and decided to buy two green bags.

Now, as I said, I’m all for replacing plastic bags with reusable ones. But I don’t see forcing customers to buy green bags under false pretences as a particularly good move (unless they were really running out of bags and trying to save whatever they could for later; that sounds very unlikely, though). We usually take our own bags to the market whenever possible, but it’s not always feasible: if you’re already out and decide to stop by the supermarket, you’re not going to have bags with you; the supermarkets need to be able to handle these customers without treating them as enemies of the environment.

4 Comments so far

  1. Mellady (unregistered) on June 27th, 2005 @ 2:31 pm

    Interesting..same thing happened to me at Big W, QVB on Saturday. I had one plsatic bag that was already full of stuff from other shops, and yet when I went to buy five items from Big W..

    I was asked if I could do without a plastic bag as they were running out. I thought about it and then said no, the bag I already had was pretty much crammed full. (ironically, at the last two shops I had been too, I had refused the plastic bag offer as I had one). I got a glare of death from the sales assistant and then a glacially slow packing of items into one of the twenty or so bags she had on her counter…..

    Sigh. Yes I am also all for the reduction of plastic bag waste, but I am also spending my money in their shop, and would like to be able to transport the items home….


  2. Hannah (unregistered) on October 11th, 2005 @ 9:07 am

    THE EVIL OF PLASTIC BAGS

    Plastig Bags not only kill alot of marine life BUT alot of Plastic Garbage gets burnt and the smoke from that is a toxin that is cancerious. So unless you want your children not to be able to play sports and go outside like we do PLEASE do NOT use plastic bags because your children won’t me able to breathe in the air because it’ll be cancerous.


  3. Mary (unregistered) on November 19th, 2005 @ 6:52 am

    I agree that no one should be forced but even so we got to look after our enviroment if we don’t we will run out of room on our little planet


  4. Tim (unregistered) on January 26th, 2006 @ 2:55 pm

    I’ve been in a Safeway tea room recently (my wife used to work for Safeway) and I saw a note on the notice board to all staff, encouraging them to reduce the use of plastic bags because of the COST SAVINGS TO SAFEWAY!!! I didn’t see anything in the note about environmental benefits!

    So beware, if they try to get you to go without, it’s only because they’re thinking of their own bottom line. Obviously converting a giveaway of a free plastic bag into the sale of a green bag is also good for Safeway’s bottom line.

    And Big W is the sister store of Safeway, so if they’re doing the same thing you can bet the directive on plastic bags / reusable bags has come from somewhere above the senior executives of both chains.

    Fair enough, businesses need to reduce costs wherever possible, but trying to paint yourself as altruistic in the process is a bit slimy!

    Tim
    jetskinirvana.blogger.com



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