U.S. shoppers, it seems, are allowed to use countless plastic bags to carry groceries from the grocery store, to their cars, without being subjected to shaming from the grocery store staff.
While I appreciate having someone put the groceries into the bags, a task that is left to the shopper in the UK, I feel huge pangs of guilt for walking out of the store with about ten plastic bags, knowing that I have a stash of about fifty and growing at home. Those bags will sit in landfills for eternity, or perhaps drown a sea turtle, just because I couldn’t be bothered to bring 15 canvas bags.
In London a few months ago, a photo of a family carrying groceries in plastic bags was splashed across the front page of a tabloid with the the headline: “Will we ever end our addiction to plastic?!”
I tried to hide my plastic bags when I walked down the street in London. When I forgot to bring my canvas bags with me when I wound up in our local London grocery store, I would apologize to the cashier, who would nod solemnly, as though to say: “We won’t kick you out today, but I can’t promise you’ll be allowed in next time.”
Our local London Whole Foods completely stopped using plastic bags, and offered a 5p discount to customers who didn’t use the paper bag.
They do have a recycling bin for plastic bags at our new local grocery store. But it’s a strange feeling to be able to take limitless plastic bags, without a disapproving cashier stare. I am a bit nostalgic for the London cashiers who expected me to be a non-abuser of plastic.