These days a lot of supermarkets have decided they don't want to sell flimsy regular plastic bags every time you go in to do your shopping. They've been offering sturdier bags for life instead, though the downside is that they cost more. Obviously the easiest solution would be to remember to bring your own bags, but one Cambridge Asda found a lot of people just went home with baskets instead.
Back in February Asda announced that it would stop selling the thin 5p bags before the end of this year, and at the moment it seems stores are just using existing stock without ordering in replacements. Instead stores have been offering 9p bags for life that last longer, and should encourage people to bring them back and avoid incurring the extra cost every time they want a single banana or a large bag of crisps.
Apparently Asda doesn't have problems with people pinching baskets in other stores, so maybe Cambridge isn't as posh and fancy as I'd assumed. The problem has got so bad that the Beehive Centre Asda only had 30-40 baskets left, and was forced to order in 100 more to avoid running out. An Asda spokesman said:
"After listening to our customers and their concerns about plastic, we made the decision to phase out our single-use plastic bags, in all of our stores, by the end of the year.
We're trying to do our bit to protect the environment, and would ask that the small number of customers who are taking our baskets home with them use their bags for life instead."
Tesco and Morrisons both told BBC News that they were unaware of any similar problems in their own stores, though I'm a little sceptical. Of the three big local supermarkets I've been to recently (two Tescos and one Morrisons), all three had security tags had attached to the shopping baskets. That never happened before, and it's not the kind of thing you do if you don't suspect customers of shoplifting baskets and keeping a pile of them in their back garden. Or maybe my local area is worse than I thought.
Pinching a basket is certainly one way to get round the plastic bag charge, especially when supermarkets aren't letting you buy single-use plastic bags. But it's not the most ethical way of doing things. Especially if you don't bring it back every time you go. [BBC News]