Helen Martin: Bag dramas are such a carry on

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AT first I was afraid, I was petrified, I kept thinking I could never live without them by my side . . .

I am, of course, referring to supermarket poly bags, one of life’s necessities in our house. ­Bringing home the shopping was only the start of it. There’s a dog to walk and poop scoop, a cat with a litter tray, bins to line and dozens more uses for these handy little totes which ­unfortunately take centuries to bio-degrade in landfill.

I know the day will come when Martian or Jupiterian archaeologists land on Earth and puzzle over the ancient tribes of Tesco or Sainsbury whose enduring flags and symbols we Earthlings have apparently symbolically buried. But I couldn’t do without them.

We got through so many I used to chase after the ones blowing in the wind. Fellow dog walkers must have thought I was on something or had a touch of the Maria von Trapps as I charged round Blackford Hill with outstretched arms.

Being bagless is a real tragedy when it’s time to walk the dog. Himself was particularly brass-necked and used to snatch an extra three every time he went through the checkout. ­Occasionally I’d buy bags custom-made for doggy dumps, but I can only conclude they were made for ­chihuahuas because they certainly didn’t accommodate a productive, ­six-stone greyhound.

The new 5p surcharge would either bankrupt us or force us into a dubious eco, alchemy solution like buying a kit from one of these “handy ideas” catalogues, that turns dog and cat poo into gold, or at least compost – providing you can cope with a steaming bin of excrement in the garden.

In fact we’ve managed fine. Nappy sacks have plummeted in price since I had to buy them 25 years ago and a pack of 150 can be bought for just a pound. The best I could do in the old days was swagger along with the doggy-do swinging jauntily – if somewhat stinkingly – in a posh Waitrose poly bag. Now it’s in a pink sack that is gently perfumed with baby powder and violets. That’s sophistication.

But we never remember to take one of our new super-strong, plastic coated lifetime bags with us when we go shopping. The penny drops at the checkout that we have to buy another. We now have so many I’m fighting my way into the pantry and would have to live to the age of 1010 to get my money’s worth out of them.

How do supermarkets feel when we turn up with a competitor’s bag and advertise the opposition? They didn’t have that problem with polys. But I’ve paid for it so I can do what I like. I imagine the big beast bags take even longer to degrade as well but that will be my great, great, great grandchildren’s problem.

Meanwhile the challenge is to find other uses for them. One or two can double as laundry baskets. I guess they can be used for storage but I don’t hoard. Next year we are going to experiment with growing potatoes in them.

Eventually of course, they’ll have to be thrown out and . . . go to landfill?