It's funny sometimes how you get back home and find yourself out of 'the buzz' - particularly, in the UK, if you speak English with an English accent but don't know what an Oyster card is on a bus or, even worse, try and poke a pound coin in the slot the tickets come out of.
These days I'm usually caught out on leave one way or the other, so being asked in a Marks and Spencer service station off the M4 if I wanted a 5p plastic bag, I naturally asked "And the alternative is?"
I got an amazed look, a glance to a colleague that said 'I've gorra right one here, Carol' and then the rather acid response to my question: "You have to carry the shopping yourself."
I elected to do so, as did the bloke in front of me: I picked up the crisps he'd dropped and handed them over to him as he left the till clutching at his armful of food.
Walking away from the shop with my Dr Seuss-like pile of of sandwiches (a little old lady kindly picked up the smoothie I'd dropped on the way and gave it back), I found myself irritated. Why 5p for a bag? If I want to give 5p to an environmental charity, I will. But I couldn't believe that the compliant Brits were willing to walk away with tottering armfulls of food because some wee fascist retailer has suddenly decided to charge for bags 'to help the environment'.
What really got me going was the obvious greenwash here. M&S gives 1.85p of the 5p, 'the profit' according to the company, to Groundworks, an environmental charity it supports. The remainder, 3.15p, presumably goes to Marks and Sparks to pay for the bag, the administration and associated costs. So Marksies get to save the costs of the 394 million plastic food bags it hands out every year - now we pay for them. And it gets a nice slice of greenwash uncritical media coverage. And we get inconvenienced but all keep quiet about it because we're, well, just terriblhy British.
More fool us.
I think it's crap that M&S has got us to pay for its bags and dressed it up as a 'green' initiative. If it really gave a hoot, it'd match the donation the hapless consumer is being forced to make - in M&S' name.
Sarah, of course, thinks that I'm a total twit for getting worked up about this...
BTW - I forgot to do the maths on this. At 3.15p per bag, M&S is set to save £12.4 million a year out of this greenwash.