And so, our lives will never be the same again.
The days of merrily filling up free bag after bag at the checkout, turning your fingers blue as you battled down the high street with the handles cutting into your skin, and then using them as bin liners after you had forgotten (yet again) to buy proper ones – it’s all over.
We now have to pay five pence for virtually every carrier bag we use.
I wouldn’t mind, but in the past week I’ve forked out 25p for bags I haven’t had. At two self-service checkouts – where they used to ask you how many of your own bags you had used – I mistakenly recorded that I wanted to buy five bags when in fact I had brought my own. That’s the price of a chunky KitKat in a £1 multipack that I’ll never get back (yep, I even buy bargain chocolate).
I have been trying to do my bit for years. I’ve bought bags for life, usually when I liked the pattern on them, and have a natty collection of those trendy jute ones with quirky slogans.
The trouble is, I just can’t get into the habit of carrying one around with me. Most of them have gathered in the boot of my car, getting the occasional outing then discarded again to sit gathering muck and moisture, so when I do remember to use them, there’s this slight musty smell hanging in the air. In good news, somebody pointed out on Facebook that all those spare carriers we have cluttering up the house means we’re now richer than we thought.
I did, last week, finally get around to replacing two bags that I haven’t used for about four months because they had huge holes in them. I’m not a loyal shopper, so I always seem to have the wrong supermarket’s bags with me; Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrison’s, M&S – I have at least one bag from them all. I even have one from Booth’s bought while on holiday in the Lake District (that’s not going to get changed too often). But that 5p charge does seem to be making us think twice about reaching for a new bag.
I’ve seen plenty of people with just a few items forgo the carrier and just leave the shop with their sandwich and drink in their arms.
But there will be some who will be determined to beat the system no matter what.
We are allowed free bags for things such as uncooked fish or meat, takeaway food, unwrapped loose seeds, flowers or bulbs, or goods contaminated by soil, like potatoes, blades and medicines, but the minute you add a box of cornflakes, 5p please.
I do wonder how long it will be before somebody buys just enough shopping they can carry it out of the store in their arms, gets their free bag for their chicken, staggers outside, dumps it all on the floor and then packs it all into the one bag.
That, I’d pay 5p to see.