Charges introduced by Marks & Spencer have reduced plastic bag use
The perils of plastic amnesia
1st November, 2006
Convenient, flimsy, costly, cynical, manipulative, wasteful, deadly...we'll never forget the plastic bag
Homo sapiens, reasoned Dostoyevsky, is not an accurate description of the human race, because 'sapiens' means wise or rational. Since it is in our nature to reject happiness and seek chaos we are irrational, and he proposed that we call ourselves the ungrateful biped.
But even this damning label does not fully explain humanity's worst invention: the plastic carrier bag. Plastic bags certainly contribute to a degree of environmental chaos, but ask most shoppers and they will maintain that supermarket carriers encourage a sense of order. They will use words such as 'handy', 'practical' and 'hygenic'. Ingratitude alone cannot explain the plastic bag. It is a phenonmenon that can only be accounted for by amnesia.
Forgetfulness is the human characteristic responsible for the consumption of rougly 500 million plastic bags annually, or a million a minute. Only three decades have passed since the flimsy carrier was introduced to the world, but it will be another millenium before the first of these has degraded in its landfill site. Since then, several trillion have been manufactured, used once or twice to actually carry things, and discarded. Only a creature with an extraordinarily dim memory...
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