plastic vs paper, knitting, and Tibet

The news that China had abolished the free distribution of plastic bags and the manufacture of any plastic bag less than 0.25mm thick, probably came as no surprise to Ken Livingstone, who remarked wistfully at a meeting with London Green Party members last year that the Chinese government, in its attempts to sell environmental responsibility to its population, had the great advantage of being able to add: ‘Do it our way, or we’ll shoot you!’ Sadly, Ken is no longer in a position to emulate their example – for the moment.

(Incidentally, on the subject of confusion and double standards, is it not a bit ludicrous for people to take to the streets to protest the Chinese treatment of Tibet, unless they’re also boycotting all Chinese goods and services? In which case they’d probably be arrested for offences against public decency long before any other offence arose.)

But, as we all know, the path of virtue is full of forks and potholes. Plastic bags are bad, but recycled paper bags are hardly better. All those chemicals to be bleached or floated out, plus paper is heavier and so uses more fuel to move around, and plastic can be recycled.

Still, paper can be recycled too,  paper recycling is not the chemical nightmare it once was, and of course the raw material of paper, trees, are generally good for the planet (except they’re not or not necessarily, or not always…)

But what about Ireland! I hear you yelp. Ireland being always cited as the big success story, with Modbury in Devon as the cute, boutique success story. Well, it turns out that since the Irish have lost their access to free plastic bags, they’re just buying loads more nappy liner  and swing bin liners instead.

There’s only one answer; bring back the string bag, like our mothers used, and which has the great advantage that you can stuff it in your handback or even pocket with barely a lump. And if the thing you’ve bought is small enough to slip through the holes, you don’t need a bag for it, you dope.

String bags can be bought from loads of food shops now, but the ultimate string bag has to be, of course, the one you knit yourself – from old plastic bags.

(see the finished product on the link, with thanks to The Naib, and when you get really ambitious, try this dress…


….from The It might scratch a little, but it’ll keep you dry in the rain…)