Monday, October 20, 2008

Sustain this!

I've just got back from a trip to Sainsbury's; the cupboards were running bare, y'see, so I decided to go restock them on what, I think, is my only free night of the week (more on that in the next few days - I'm such a tease).

So there I am, driving into Sainsbury's, when I notice a big ol' sign plastered across the wall outside:

(just ask if you need them)

OK, now, I'm all for being green and looking out for the environment where possible, but c'mon - I'm rocking up without any alternative (this may come as a shock but I don't carry a stash of placcy bags in my car). And quite frankly hiding the bags under the counter doesn't really do anything except force me to interact with the person at the till more than I usually would.

Anyway, so I stroll round and pick up a decent amount of shopping; and by decent amount I mean it warranted a trolley. When I'm done I find a reasonably empty till, and start offloading everything onto the conveyor belt. There's some woman in front of me buying enough to feed a small third world country, and asking stupid questions about her Nectar card. Eventually she pisses off and the till girl turns to look at me.

And she sighs, reaches under the till, and hurls a handful of plastic bags at me. I smile and thank her (because I was brought up to be polite), and begin packing. 

After a short while I use all the bags she's given me (five in total), and so I ask for a couple more.

"You should bring your own, you know." She says to me.

"I would have if I had known," I reply.

She rolls her eyes at me, hands me two more bags, and then says "you're supposed to be being green."

She almost got a Cranberry and Raspberry Muller Light yoghurt on her head. 

"It's all very well trying to get us to reuse old plastic bags," I said. "But the fact of the matter is that I was unaware of this new policy, and they're so weak that they fall apart after one use."

"You're supposed to buy the bag for life," she shot back.

"So this is a revenue raising scheme, huh?" I replied.

She giggled coquettishly, and said "I'm winding you up."

There is a fine line between flirtation and irritation. I weighed the Muller Light in my hand once more, then dropped it in the bag.

The fact of the matter is that supermarkets like Sainsbury's are big ones to talk. For years they've doled out plastic bags emblazoned with their logos like the child-catcher hands out sweets, happy for us to wander the streets like little advertising hoardings. We're a society used to them, so no wonder it comes as a bit of a shock when we're suddenly told we're oh-so-naughty for wanting them. Try to make me feel guilty? But hey! What about sustainable alternatives? Is not possible in this day and age to create a paper bag durable enough to survive the weekly shopping trip? One that would be rectangular in shape and thus easier to get more shopping in so that we'd actually require less - one that is, perhaps, a little more convenient than a plastic bag, and would fit better in the boot of a car? One that, when we're done with it it can be folded up and put in our recycling bins or returned to the supermarket where it can be recycled or reused?

Probably… but maybe it's a little too much effort.

So don't talk to me about the environment, Sainsbury's; I walked your aisles tonight, I saw the masses of plastic and cardboard fashioned into wasteful packaging on hundreds of your products. Take a look at yourself before you try to make your customers feel guilty.


A far more pleasant shopping trip took place yesterday when I strolled up to the Apple Store for some new iPhone headphones. Don't worry, I didn't wash the last pair like I did my iPod headphones, but rather after eight months of constant use they'd gotten a little bit tired; that and the fact that some bloke brushed past me in the street the other day and accidently yanked the right headphone out with his pointy elbow - the little track-skipping clicker didn't work quite the same after that incident.

There's also the slightly odd occurrence of the rubber around the outer part of the right-hand headphone degrading and coming away. I was a bit worried that a lump of it might come off and get wedged in my earhole. I don't know why this happened; I can only assume I exude some sort of toxic ear residue. 

Anyway, whatever the reason I decided to buy some new iPhone headphones. And I did. With ease, and without the need for a bag. The Apple Store also email your receipt to you, so I was actually extra green by turning down a plastic bag, and not wasting paper by asking for a printed receipt. It's also quite exhilarating walking out of the shop with a new pair of iPhone headphones concealed in your pocket. It's the nearest I'll ever get to shoplifting, I imagine.


OK, so I've been studiously reading lots of books throughout the year like the rest of the Coven … well, like Dinah and T-Bird, anyway; I believe IDV has stalled on a Meg and Mog book, not only because it bears startling similarities to his own life, but because it's a bit hard-going for him. There's some big words, don't ya know - like 'a' and 'the.'

Anyway, I'm saving my reading list for its traditional end of the year place, but I wanted to give you a heads-up on a book I just finished reading. It's called Knockemstiff and it's by a guy called Donald Ray Pollock. I bought this book back in August (picked up a signed copy don't ya know!) after being attracted to it by it's somewhat unusual packaging and sparse cover. It's a hardback book that's been trimmed down to look like a paperback - so the cover and the pages are all squared off to the same height, rather than the cover extending past the book block. I'm sorry if that sounds like some sort of publishing nerdgasm, but I genuinely appreciate interesting design and packaging.

But that would be all for nought if the book wasn't up to scratch - and by god this book was up to scratch. It's basically a series of interconnected short stories set around the town of Knockemstiff; characters mentioned briefly in one story play a prominent role in another, some of which are set years later. It's a great concept made up of stories that are very well told. Many of the characters aren't exactly the nicest people you could meet, but they're all interesting and often their stories are darkly humourous. Very highly recommended.

Next up? In at the deep end of Steinbeck with East of Eden. All 700-odd pages of it… 


WillowC said...

Smacking someone about the face with a yoghurt counts as flirtation in some circles, I say go for it.

You can't win in those bloody places, you know. Because I have to climb a massive hill, I have occasionally resorted to taking my suitcase with me to Tesco (it's one step up from a nan trolley). Do I get any thanks? Of course not, just a funny look and a snigger.

Tara said...

The store near me offers a bin to recycle their plastic bags, but then they bag new groceries in fresh plastic bags. I'm all for going green too, but I don't stop to question their methods. All I can think of is Kermit the Frog's song, "It Ain't Easy Being Green". Kermit spoke the truth. He was way ahead of his time.

Inexplicable DeVice said...

"So there I am, driving into Sainsbury's" You go to a drive-through Sainsbury's?
And who was this slut who dared to giggle coquettishly at you? Give me a name and she's history. Doesn't she know you're spoken for? Cow.

As for the Meg and Mog jibe - * giggles coquettishly * - You big tease!
Actually, I loved those books when I was young. And when I was a little bit older, too: The Mother was an infant school teacher, the school being opposite the high school where I attended. When high school finished at 14:30, I'd walk across the field and wait for The Mother to finish at 15:00, sometimes reading Meg and Mog to the kids while she cleared up. My favourite was Meg's Eggs.

CyberPete said...

You had me at earhole and lost me again at ear residue.

Tilly the slut should really pack it in don't yanno. Rude!

Tim said...

Willowc - Depends on whether or not it's man yoghurt…

Tara - Kermit was waaaaay ahead of his time. Words we should all live by!

Inexplicable Device - I was distracted by some twinkly lights and just drove into the store. My bad. And yes, good point - I am taken! I should've shown her the picture of Autumn Reeser I carry in a heart-shaped locket and said "back off, lady!"

You had a thing for Meg's eggs, eh?

Cyberpete - What've you got against ear residue?

CyberPete said...

It just sounded so, well ear residue isn't a nice combo. Not that, to me, residue sounds good on its own.

We make these plastic bags in Denmark that you can use more than once. They are quite good, and yes I bring them with me when I go shopping so I don't have to pay the 30p for a new one. Once they are in too poor a shape to use for carrying stuff around in, I use them for garbage.

Inexplicable DeVice said...


Sorry for the shouting, but for some reason, the mention of Reeser really rubs me up the wrong way.

* sulks *

Inexplicable DeVice said...

Eeeek! 'Petra, you frightened me half to death.

watch*paint*dry said...

If I ask nicely will you drive into the Sainsburys near me? They could do with a shake-up, they didn't have any milk last night.

CyberPete said...

Oooooer we almost collided there IDV!

Scary thought.

Tim said...

Cyberpete - Yeah, the till wench tried to get me to buy some. Her selling point was "well they've got flowers on."

Inexplicable Device - She can rub me up any which way she chooses.

OMG! Did you and Pete have an STC collision!? Or was it more of a smooch?

Watch*Paint*Dry - Isn't that more of a ram-raid?

Cyberpete - I think it was a smooch.

CyberPete said...

That's an awesome selling point! Didn't you buy like 100?

I hope he didn't get frisky. I'm not sure I could deal with that.

Dinah said...

Those Meg and Mog books look awesome. I wish I'd read those!

Right now the big thing is for food stores to sell their own canvass bags at the stores. But they haven't stopped giving us plastic bags.

Tim said...

Cyberpete - He tried to touch you in a special place: behind the bike sheds.

Dinah - I seem to remember they were pretty good books! And there was a similar thing over here with bags - huge queues of bored housewives trying to get their clutches on cheap woven bags that said I'M NOT A PLASTIC BAG on the side because some fashion magazine said they were cool.

T-Bird said...

What? A fashion magazine said something was cool?


Plus, you have a heart shaped locket with Autumn Reeses pieces in it? That's sort of cute.

Mine has Zachary Quinto in it today.

Tim said...

T-Bird, you're too cool for school without a fashionable bag!

You managed to fit all of Zachary Quinto in a necklace and hang him around your neck Flava Flav stylee? Impressive!

T-Bird said...

Yes, he's surprising small and compact and very obliging. My back hurts from dragging him around though.

Tim said...

Is Quinto to you what Reeser is to me?

CyberPete said...

I hope I remembered that I don't have to get naked just because it feels like sex.

Wow, who knew Geri Halliwell was so educational.

Tim said...


T-Bird said...

Yes, I totally love Zachary Quinto. I can't take him seriously as Sylar, though. He'll always be Tori Spelling's ghey from her surprisingly good show...

Tim said...

Interesting… How do you think you'll like him as Spocko?

CyberPete said...

You don't think so?

She was teaching us a lot though didn't she?

If you want to find your latin man you just have to put on a skimpy bikini and relax on a boat and on the beach.

T-Bird said...

I'll heart him as Spock, because he's such a good actor. Heroes has lost the plot lately and is getting increasingly stoopid, and although he's the only good thing about it, it's still hard to see him as a baddie - especially when they are making him all pretty like. So it's not the acting, but rather the writing of that show that's letting it down.

Spock is a different story. Because Quinto is pretty.

Tim said...

Cyberpete - I wasn't aware I was looking for a latin man, but thanks for letting me know how to find one if I need one.

T-Bird - And at least by looking at Leonard Nimoy you know what he'll look like in 40 years time!

And yes, Heroes is boring the tits off me at the mo'.

CyberPete said...

You are sø very welcome. One can never get enough latin men. Just ask IDV or T-Birdy

Inexplicable DeVice said...

I'm sure I don't know what you mean, 'Petra?

Heroes in dull and preposterous. I want it to get back to the cleanness and simpicity of the character-driven first series. I couldn't give a monkey's what's happening 5 years in the future (unlike the fantastic Desperate Housewives, on the other hand). Plus, Peter obviously hasn't thought about how time travel actually works, or he wouldn't be trying to change things. Rather like Ancient Janeway from Endgame. She should've known beter!

T-Bird said...

And how freaking annoying is Claire? I. Don't. Give. A. Poo. About. Her. They should just make the show about Ando and Hiro and be done with it. Parkmen is getting painful too. Too many characters, too many powers. Not enough character development. I think I am over it. But I do watch it now with friends and laugh at wonky mouth with them.

Hm. I'm not sure about latin men. Being a of the latin looks persuasion myself, I tend to go for the opposite.

I had a sexy dream about Steve Buscemi the other night.

Yep. I know.

Tim said...

Cyberpete - Oh look, T-Bird disagrees!

Inexplicable Device - At least ancient Janeway didn't take life so seriously. Heroes is very po-faced … I'm thinking if it continues on this path I might have to give up on it!

Wonky-mouth no more!

T-BIrd - I know! I think I'm really bored with it. They've watered Sylar down so that now he's a reasonably good guy, and the whole 'he's a Petrelli' thing just seems so cliched.


watch*paint*dry said...

Glad to know I am not alone in thinking Heroes is wonkier than Peter's mouth.

They just irritate me now. All of them. Especially Claire. And Saresh.

CyberPete said...

T-Birdy: Oh no, Steve Buscemi?

Seriously? *shudders*

Tim: Well you take the opinion of a person who has sex dreams about Steve Buscemi.

I mean really!?!

Tim said...

Watch*Paint*Dry - I think it should've ended after the first season … it's just a mass of cliches and bad plotting now.

Cyberpete - Buscemi… Ugh! I feel dirty.

Inexplicable DeVice said...

I can't picture who Steve Buscemi is, and judging by the responses, I'm glad.

CyberPete said...

I would too, if I were you IDV.

Truely disturbing. It's the creepy guy with the teeth.