Zyra's website //// Supermarkets //// give away Cardboard Boxes instead! //// Ecology //// Site Index

Supermarket Bags

Plastic supermarket carrier-bags that are given away free


Those plastic bags that supermarkets give away, they are coming in for some environmental criticism. Although the cheap plastic bags were first introduced to be helpful, so the customers could haul away their shopping, there are since been issues raised about the impact these bags have on the environment.

In a desperate attempt to "reduce the damage" rather than to do something positive, supermarkets have resorted to "bio-degradeable" bags. These are often poorer quality, but not necessarily. However, you may wonder what form the biodegradeability takes. Well I'll tell you. After a while the bag will self-destruct leaving a fine powder that you have to vacuum up from the carpet. The worst for these are the cheapest, poorest-quality, weakest, Tesco bags. When these fail, which they do, after about three months, the mess seriously puts to question any merit the bags had in the first place. This, on top of the already poor reputation of the weakness of the bags, has led to some customers refusing the accept any bags when they go to Tesco. As a result, you do see people walking out of Tesco with their shopping in Asda bags!

The shopping bags of Asda are of medium quality, and certainly good enough to hold the weight of the sorts of things which are typically stuffed into supermarket bags. The quality has varied over the years, and some of the reissues have been of better quality, and some worse. The better ones hold up to long-term reuse, which is good.

The best supermarket bags (2011) are those from Iceland. Besides being the strongest, and durable to the level where they can be re-used on an ongoing basis, but they also have on the bag "Don't throw me away - re-use me!". This message is clear for all to see. Plus, in addition to that, the bags are made of HDPE which is recyclable. It does seem that Iceland have got this sussed! Well Done to Iceland frozen food supermarket! Now they just need to get their affiliate program back and it will all be just fine.

Now, about supermarket plastic carrier bags in general, and why are they regarded as such a shocking heinous environmental sin that when someone nice person went on Dragon's Den to suggest a sensible little bin-receptacle that used old supermarket bags, the Dragons got their barge poles and wouldn't touch it lest the taint of "supermarket bags" infringe on their rights to appear squeaky-clean to the PR departments?!?

Well, it could be that supermarket bags can end up in the sea, where marine critters eat them and then their little marine inn'ards that aren't evolutionarily adapted to munch through Tesco/Asda Special Offer free plastic with every purchase, end up dead and then the rotting remains of the beastie slowly glug down to the abyssal seabed where other little opportunist scavengers attempt to devour the plastic and then they too come a'cropper, and so on and so on.

On land it's not so bad, because some economic miser might set fire to the plastic bags on a fire (see Burning stuff to Save money), and then they are GONE. Or, the bags could be buried. Well OK they don't rot next year, but I doubt the glorious and esteemed Archaeologists will find not them much fun to excavate, as after 100 years they'll have rotted. Rot and decay are implicit in all products that have as their progenitor the legendary OIL, which makes a nice flame now, but in long time, it makes darkness and a feeling that the resource was wasted through folly of the benighted dark ages whence Oil was extracted at the cost the the glorious future when sensible high-tech things could be done with the useful product too good to burn!

Anyway, back to the supermarket bags: Let's re-use them until they get worn-out, and then burn them. Whenever going back to the supermarket, take an old bag, I mean a plastic supermarket bag that's been used before, and the use it again.

Plus, lobby Supermarkets to have proper re-use and availability of Cardboard Boxes in Shops ! Go on, you know it makes sense!


"There's no such thing a FREE Supermarket Bag" Says Netto. Well, there certainly isn't a Netto, because they charge money for them. They may have a point. Not that most of their customers give a damn, as many they haven't sussed they can take along an Iceland bag and save money! However, in terms of freeness of supermarket bags, the cost is generally regarded as offset by the advertising the supermarket gets as the shopper takes the shopping home.