Here in the UK we're very good at using scapegoats to save us the brain power in having to think about the bigger picture. Take the whole 'be more ethical' movement. It's a massively complex situation that involves politics, religion, multi-national corporations and a few billion people.
Yet in the UK, it's apparently all the fault of the plastic bag. As soon as Anya Hindmarch launched a fashion line that touched on it, it was instantly on the front pages of the press. The plastic bag was the reason the planet was falling apart.
When I studied my MA a few years back I focused on ethicality and packaging, so I do know how bad plastic bags can be for the planet. It's obvious really: use less packaging, and make sure the stuff you do use is biodegradable and recyclable. But that goes with all packaging, not just plastic bags and I'm happy to see this being addressed now. A few years ago people were happily turning down free plastic bags but then proceeding to buy individually wrapped bananas...
But I think there's a new kid on the block that seems to have slipped through the net.
I'm always very careful when it comes to plastic bags and I only get them when I need them. I try and balance out being given plastic bags with not buying black bin bags. So most of the time I'll refrain from accepting a plastic bag. However, the majority of the time I simply do not need a receipt. Let's face it, when you buy some shower gel or some dried fruit, you rarely take the item back. Yet over the weekend when I bought those items I ended up with 4 very large pieces of paper with information on them that was simply of no interest to me. I can understand a receipt with some goods, of course, but not for all.
Why can't I have some information built into my credit/ debit card that tells the till to send an electronic version of my receipt to an email address? That way I can log in if I need it, and I'm not lumbered with having to store pieces of paper, and the environment benefits too? Is that too much to ask? And if I pay with cash why can't I have a Tesco Clubcard style key fob? I tap it on the till and it sends my email address a receipt of the transaction?
Am I missing something and this has been done already? It seems so simple...