Better living through plastics

Dr Eric Crampton
Insights Newsletter
17 April, 2020

Time flies. Was it only a year ago that New Zealand’s ban on disposable plastic bags at the supermarket came in? It’s hard to tell anymore. January seemed to last about a week, February was about two months long and April… well, April’s been longer than usual and is far from over.

In any case, last July was well over a year ago, no matter what your lying calendar might claim.

Despite this now being ancient history, I do remember folks saying I was overreacting to the plastic bag ban and assuring me that it wouldn’t be any hassle at all.

The ban seemed pointless. Supermarket bags from places like New Zealand were unlikely to wind up in the oceans unless they were sent off to South Asia for a form of recycling that seemed to involve tipping containerloads of plastics into the nearest river.

Kept here, after their use in shopping, they could be reused as bin liners, or for cleaning the cat box (the chore my boy won in the most recent iteration of our job-tendering scheme), or for myriad other domestic purposes from emptying vacuum cleaner canisters to trash bags in the car.

None of that seemed to count for much. Neither did the experienced inconvenience of those who, like me, found themselves bagless on unexpected grocery errands while out for an evening stroll.

Because the ban irritated me, I ordered several hundred disposable plastic bags on Ali Express for use on shopping runs: the ban only prevents supermarkets from handing them out. And there are minor joys to be had in the looks of scorn – or of envy – a handful of verboten plastic bags can draw at the checkout.

But now they have become even more convenient.

I can easily store many inside my jacket pocket, along with rubber gloves, while on that evening stroll. If the queue at the local New World looks short, I can do my weekly shopping; otherwise, I can wait.

And while other people have to figure out which washing machine cycle is appropriate for a jute-fibre reusable bag and whether a thick plastic reusable bag would melt in the dryer, my bags can safely and simply be thrown away after use.

Wax nostalgic for the happier days of 2018 and enjoy better living through plastics. It’s just a click away at Ali Express.

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