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Plastic bags


bubbachumps

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East Dulwich residents are generally really good at minimising use of plastic/carrier bags - most of us take a bag with us on a planned shopping trip and local shops generally only give out a bag if you ask for one/really need one. Can we all however hand on heart say that we carry a hessian shopping bag with us at all times, whether we are planning on going shopping or not?


I popped into Green and Blue on the way home from work the other night and bought 2 bottles of wine. It was not a planned trip and I had no bag, other than my handbag and my laptop bag, and was obviously laden. I paid and asked for a bag and was told that they do not give out carrier bags. I was quite surprised since they are selling heavy, breakable objects, and wine is often a spontaneous not a planned purchase. I was offered a box instead, but was told it was not a carrier box, but an actual box I would have to carry in both arms. This was not suitable. I was then told I could buy one of their hessian bags. This did not seem acceptable to me since I had already spent ?40 on the wine and have several hessian bags at home for planned shopping trips. After an uncomforatble trip home an email to the manager provoked a response noting that not carrying a bag at all times is lazy and forgetful! Well that told me. Perhaps I am the only person in East Dulwich who does not have a hessian bag on me at all times, whether I am intending to go shopping or not, but I don't think so.

I have heard people say Green and Blue are "up themselves" before, but this was the first time I had experienced it first time. I am fully in favour of reducing carrier bag usage, but in the real world can any of us say that we never ever use them? CAn shops not have emergency second hand carrier bags to give out when really necessary, or recycled paper bags or something?


I hope the manager of G&B does not fly anywhere or drive a car.......

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I do carry two bags on me all the time, so am afraid that I agree with the manager of G&B. I would say I use mine most days and wouldn't be without them. I do end up with plastic bags occasionally, but usually when buying clothes (due to their heavy usage, my folding bags aren't terribly clean!).


I have one of these: http://www.paperchase.co.uk/travel/wild-heather-folding-bag/invt/00478927/ and you can also buy these: http://www.onyabags.co.uk/shop.php?crn=205 from the eco shop on Lordship Lane.

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I too try and take a bag with me whenever I go shopping but I don't think that's really the issue. There will be times when we forget a bag, or make an unplanned trip etc etc and it seems strange that shops are unwilling to recognise this. I'm all for shops trying to encourage customers not to use plastic bags but why they can't provide recycled or paper bags for emergenies is beyond me and strikes me as a very holier-than-thou attitude.
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The benefit to the environment of not using carrier bags is a drop in the ocean compared with driving a car, flying, breeding, pretty much most other things.


Did the manager really call you lazy? I've always really liked Green & Blue and never found anyone there remotely up themselves, so I'm staggered by that. But it's appalling if true. I would have asked for a refund and bought my wine from somewhere that understood the concept of customer service.

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I'm all for cutting down on plastic bags, but calling your customers lazy seems judgemental and unjustified.


Most people don't carry bags at all times - selling strong paper bags or carry-boxes for 15p or so would seem like a sensible compromise.


I'm not sure that any company who imports products from the southern hemisphere are in a position to criticise people's green credentials.

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Hello all. As some of you will know I am one of the owners of Green & Blue.


We do not have any plastic bags, and have not had for a while. We do have boxes, small paper bags, and hessian bags which we sell at cost price. We do not have any plastic bags however, not even recycled ones for emergencies. The thing is that unless shops simply don't provide plastic bags, people will forget to carry an alternative, and they will get a plastic bag if they ask for one, and nothing improves. The impact on the environment of single use plastic is huge and we are just trying to do our bit to improve that. We are sorry if this is inconvenient, we realy are, and we do know that can annoy now and again. But it is our policy, not because we want to be pious, but because we think it is the best way to tackle the issue.


I have spoken to the manager in question, who has no recollection of calling you lazy, and we certainly don't want to appear "up ourselves". However we obviously did annoy you and again I apologise. If you would like to PM me I will happily give you one of our hessian bags for free.

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You either buy into the ?plastic bags are a problem? or you don?t. When monica was in full flow with the SNUB campaing there was a lot of debate about how important are they in the scheme of things (compared to international air travel etc etc)


If you don?t buy into it all then that?s your call


But if you do nominally subscribe to the idea of cutting back on plastic bag usage then I think it needs shops to take a hardline to genuinely change our habits


Several times I was caught out like this at G&B at the beginning ? I didn?t blame them, I just got better at doing the bag thing.


I don?t see the black and white argument that they shouldn?t sell anything from far away ? that?s where good wine comes from. But if we can reduce the overall overhead by removing plastic bags from the equation then bonus


Recycling the bottle when finished is relatively pointless compared to the freight but that doesn?t mean you don?t drink it

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I think the main problem is not that they don't they don't have bags, but the accusation of laziness.


And I'm not saying that they shouldn't sell anything from far away - of course not. I was just demonstrating that nobody is perfect, everybody makes compromises.

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I have now read through all of the emails from both sides, which seems to have been quite a considerable amount of correspondence. The manager in question was discussing our plastic bag policy, and stated that we don't provide them in order to assist people who are too lazy to bring their own alternative bags, or are (as was the case here) forgetful. We just don't provide them at all. She did not call the customer lazy, but if it was read that way, again we apologise. The customer was at the time of her complaint offered a free bottle of wine as a good will gesture and I have also offered a free bag. Both offers stand as we really do value our customers.


We don't wish to appear rude, or to alienate, we really don't. But we do stick to our "no plastic bags" policy. I can give you some stats and more reasons why if you're interested.

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I don't care much about the bag eco-issue. If a shop doesn't want to use them I can't make them, but there's no harm in asking. Or so I thought.

A bag contains about 4g of plastic, which is less than most fmcg containers. Obviously it would be awesome to get rid of all packaging, but I don't see why the bags should take the biggest hit, they are rather useful unlike the plastic trays fruit and veg are often packed in. etc..


Anyway my problem with G&B has moved beyond bags. They now see themselves as the next Julian Assange.


G&B has a company contact form:

http://www.greenandbluewines.com/index.php/CONTACT/Contact-Green-Blue.html

So, because I like having the option of a (free) carrier, I decided to send some customer feedback to that effect. Laced with sarcasm, sure, but not downright rude - and heck, I'm an angry customer, that's what these forms are for!


Next, Ms Y from G&B emails me back with a lengthy diatribe, containing the key paragraph:

"As a business, we refuse to be involved in a hugely irresponsible and wasteful procedure (the offering of plastic bags) to compensate for lazy or forgetful behavior. ". (my emphasis)


So bit of a heated exchange, no big deal really. And as Ms Y says, she was in a bad mood. UNTIL - I notice G&B have posted my private message (posted using their company web site remember) on their blog!

http://www.greenandbluewines.com/index.php/Plastic-bags-An-Altercation.html


I'd say that was bad manners, and they really should have asked. From what I can see the practice of quoting a private email is frowned upon, and is certainly rather unprofessional for a business.

http://ask.metafilter.com/45888/Quoting-from-email-intellectual-property-or-privacy-issue



If anyone can be bothered reading the whole blog post they'll note my wife has generally agreed that plastic bags are bad and mainly uses a canvas bag when shopping herself. This is as good as public opinion gets on the bag issue, and should be applauded - yet Ms Y fails to notice she is speaking to an ally, and continues the rant.


So careful what you say to G&B, they're a bit web-happy, and don't have a "comment" button on the blog. Tsk. I would have posed the bag question on the forum if I'd wanted it aired in public.


Overall I'm disgruntled and rather surprised by their behavior.

They are a shop not a environmental institution right? Shops are normally a bit more polite to their customers, even ones they don't agree with.


The only good outcome I can take from the situations is the villainous "Mr X" name they gave me, it's got a good ring to it.

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Mac - I'm not sure there's much I can add here. I can only repeat that you were not directly being called lazy, and we've apologised that you read it as such. We've explained our plastic bag policy, with which you disagree, and we've offered goodwill gestures, which are still being offered.


The owner is entitled to write her blog on subjects that she feels strongly about. She did not identify you or your wife, in order to protect your privacy - privacy which your original anonymous post on a public forum did not afford to us. You had already had an opportunity to engage with us privately over this issue but you still wanted to publicly berate us as well. Freedom of speech is a tricky balance isn't it?


We are, genuinely, sorry that you're offended. Please accept our wine and bag as a peace offering.

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Erm, what "Anonymous post on a public forum" are you referring to here?

The "Anonymous public forum" which is your companies feedback form? In which I identified my full name and email address?


This forum post was started *after* you decided to make this all public. Get it straight.

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That's very shocking Mac.


If a business doesn't want to provide plastic bags then they should offer an alternative free of charge. But perhaps they did? I'm not saying cloth bags should be offered free given that they are expensive, but running a business is also about customer service so they should be able to find a balance between upholding the principles they believe in and looking after their customers- not at all mutually exclusive in my eyes. To call people lazy is just bad practice, whether aimed at an individual or just a general response. Businesses really need to keep their personal feelings to themselves.


I also reuse plastic bags for all kinds of things so do not see them as particularly wasteful.I take my own bags when I know I'm going shopping but if it's on the offchance that I decide to buy something on a whim and find myself needing a plastic bag I certainly wouldn't appreciate some kind of diatribe aimed at me.

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Mac - I didn't comment on a time line. Rather my point was that you didn't need to name and berate us publicly since you already had an opportunity to talk to us directly. The blog followed your complaint. The blog was anonymous. The Forum followed the blog, which was not anonymous, and I'm not sure what it's added.


In any event it seems ulikely we are going to be able to agree, and I know you continue not to accept our apologies, they are nonetheless offered. I wish your household a happy christmas, and if you'd like a free bottle of wine for the festive season, you know where we are.


With a free bag to carry it home in, of course.

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