The Unsuitablog

Exposing Ethical Hypocrites Everywhere!

It’s What You Put In The Bags That Counts

Posted by keith on January 11th, 2010

Empty Bags

Unless you are, by some remarkable turn of events, completely self-sufficient in food — which, believe me, I would dearly love to be, except that I live in a society that doesn’t want me to be — then you will have to go out and buy stuff from time to time. Today was one such time; so after walking my younger daughter to school (or, to be accurate, walking about 30 metres in front of her while she chatted to a friend) I continued slipsliding on the surface of pavements covered with just-melting ice, and eventually reached the small National Trust property where I do some wardening two or three times a week. The gate was locked due to the snow and ice being quite treacherous, so I let myself in and spent a happy 30 minutes walking around picking up the odd piece of litter, and generally enjoying the bewhitened landscape, replete with squirrels, crows, chaffinches and a slightly confused mistle thrush.

I left through the top gate, then continued my slidey walk through the town in search of a charity shop woolly hat (£1 from Cancer Research), a mug of coffee (to accompany the planning of The Unsuitablog’s next major campaign), some potatoes and onions from the corner veg shop, and various food items from the Co-op (formerly Somerfield). It was while putting the porridge oats, vinegar, butter, bread flour etc. on the conveyor belt at the till that I noticed the woman in front, dutifully packing all of her items into a range of “bags for life”, that had been bought at Tesco, Sainsburys and Marks & Spencer.

After you’ve clicked on the links in the last sentence, see if you have the same thoughts about bags as me…

See what I mean, especially that last one?

I can’t remember exactly what she was putting in the bags, but it was an awful lot, and most of it didn’t look like staple foods; more the kinds of things bought to satisfy the endless cravings brought on by a life spent in front of advert-strewn television sets. Now, I don’t want to bash this particular person: look at any supermarket queue and you will see the same thing, and far worse in the form of two-litre bottles of Coke and spring water, multi-packs of crisps, loaves and loaves of sliced bread (especially when the weather’s cold, for some reason), ready meals and prepacked meats and pre-washed vegetables and pre-peeled potatoes and pre-grated cheese, bars of chocolate, boxes of cakes…piles and piles of food in shopping carts, of which about 30% will be thrown away, and the rest gorged upon in an orgy of consumer loyalty. This is normal; perfectly normal.

And it’s fine, because it’s all neatly packed in eco-friendly reusable bags.

2 Responses to “It’s What You Put In The Bags That Counts”

  1. Meredith Says:

    I work in a co-op in the US and I see that sort of thing EVERYDAY! I cannot believe that people spend all of this money on organic processed food and honestly believe thy are doing what’s best for them! I see this one family come in every Saturday afternoon and their cart is filled and they bring their own bags that they purchased at a different (chain) grocery store. The cart is filled with frozen dinners and several family size bags of chips. We have a very extensive bulk department and a beautiful produce department that the family walks past every single time they come in.

  2. Richard Kenyon Says:

    This kind of thing occurs to me too.

    It’s all part of our incomplete assessment of impact. “Organic” produce seems to be flown half-way round the world to Supermarkets but it’s ok because it’s got the Organic label.

    Capitalism itself is probably the best example of a popular ideology that time & again fails to take account of anything beyond the Balance Sheet. And it’s touch-&-go whether any of us will survive that blunder.

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