Yesterday I had a great shopping day from a Zero Waste perspective. I bought a few things in town and managed to return home with no plastic bags, not even the little tiddly one that was almost thrust upon me!
The first stop was very early in the day to buy an emergency present for a birthday party. I found two fabulous dinosaurs in the Early Learning Centre. They weren't boxed, so no useless packaging to discard. After politely refusing the carrier bag, the next stop was Clinton Cards to find a gift bag, where I declined another offer of an even larger carrier bag. After all, we were en route to the birthday party (which actually reveals how disorganised I was - too busy with the worms I think).
After picking up some craft paper and a bunch of bananas (and then balancing them carefully through the market), I spotted a stall that was selling daffodils without the usual plastic wrapping that is used to protect flowers.
As I paid for the daffodils, I asked the stall-holder for permission to take a photo and whilst doing so he kindly dropped my bananas into a small carrier bag.
I teetered over rebuking his kind gesture, as I hate saying no to people and I never like to offend anyone. However I stuck to my guns and politely gave it back. He probably thought I was a mad old toad...but eh... so do plenty of others.
However, I am certainly not unusual in rejecting carrier bags. There is now greater awareness about their effect on landfill and the ecology and an increasing number of people are now using reusable shopping bags.
There are several shops in Bury St Edmunds where shopkeepers make the effort to ask if a plastic bag is needed and top marks go to shops such as Boots, WHSmith, Rymans, The Body Shop and Woolworths who always pose the question. There seems to be less proactive measures taken by the independent shops, with the exception of a few, Butterworth's being one of them.
It would be great to see Bury St Edmunds follow in the footsteps of Modbury, which is the UK's first Plastic Bag Free town. This trend has since seen Overton, Hebden Bridge and Tisbury all signing up to be free of carrier bags. According to this link on the Modbury site, it looks as though the local towns of Ipswich and Newmarket are also in the planning stages, which is encouraging news, so maybe things will happen in Bury St Edmunds after all.