I’ve talked about this before and I suspect I’ll talk about it again because it ticks me off THAT much! The issue at question is that of shops in Warsaw charging for bags that will allow you to transport your goods from the shop to the car or wherever. Car? Who said car? I mean hybrid, planet-saving mode of transport of course.
It used to be that every store would package your goods, or provide you with bags so you could do it yourself. This makes sense, they want you to buy from them and they are making it easy for you to deal with the goods you buy. You spend money, they make a profit so that’s exactly what they should do. Well, apparently not any more.
This started perhaps six months to a year ago. You’d load up your trolley with goods at Bomi or Carrefour, get to the checkout and find the pile of bags had suddenly vanished. Thinking the checkout operator had forgotten to put them out you’d ask for some bags only to be told that they now cost 20 grosz each or that you had to choose between the skinny plastic ones for X PLN or the plastic ones that don’t break for Y PLN or the reusable ones that had been lovingly hand-sewn by well looked-after Indian peasants for Z PLN. The one consistent factor being that you needed to part with more money to be able to remove your goods from their conveyor belt. What started with a few grocery stores has now caught on like an Californian forest fire and has reached the point where just about every store, certainly every grocery store, is charging for bags. Most of them for the skimpy plastic things. Hell, I’m even being charged for bags by the Lukullus cake kiosk, all of 10m2, in the walkway of Zlote T so I’m not exaggerating here, charging extra for bags is Warsaw’s biggest recent trend after the promotion of Wellington boots to an item of high fashion!
Notwithstanding any of the ecological stuff, I have a fundamental problem in paying extra to be able to remove my goods from someone’s store. In buying the goods in their store I’m paying for a complete experience that includes a trolley to put things in, goods on shelves, a checkout and a means to take things away from the shop. Charging me extra for that last part is like buying a car (oops, there I go again) and being told I have to push it home or buying a cinema ticket and finding there are no seats.
I’ve taken to asking the shop assistants if their prices have been reduced to offset the money they are now making from the sale of the plastic bags they used to give away for free. The answer is always either “No!” or a blank stare.
The lame excuse for them increasing their profits is that this is “good for the planet”. That plastic shopping bags are evil and will single-handedly bring about the destruction of the known universe, and possibly of some parts we don’t know, within a matter of a few years. Frankly, I’m amazed Hollywood hasn’t caught onto this one yet – 2012 Plastic Armageddon! starring Keanu Reeves as a plastic bag.
Okay, I’ll accept that plastic isn’t a good thing to have in circulation but the fact of the matter is that the vast majority of these shops are not charging me for paper bags, ones that have been made from trees allowed to roam free and cared for by herds of tree-hugging ecological nutters, they are charging me for nasty evil plastic bags. They also don’t charge enough for the evil bags to be taken seriously in their claim of wishing to change my bad habits and turn me into a better citizen. No no, they charge just enough to appear to be trying to save the planet while trousering a little more of my hard earned cash. They don’t give a toss about the planet, they just want to rip me off on my way out the door.
Of course the greatest hypocrisy of all is that 99% of the time I’m putting a hell of a lot more plastic INTO my plastic bag than the bag itself is made from. Look at the packaging of all those groceries or, God forbid, those Littlest Pet Shop toys that are 90% plastic packaging and 10% toy. What about all the little plastic bags I have to use to put my fruit and vegetables into so they can weigh them and make sure I’m not stealing an extra grape? Should I expect to be paying for those too soon?
So, I remain deeply unconvinced that these shop-keepers are motivated by anything other than greed. There’s a recession, times are hard, let’s charge for bags. When I see real evidence of shops and this country trying hard to be good to the planet then I’ll be very happy to join in but until then you can expect a few more posts like this one.