Australia Is All Choked Up With "Bag Rage" as Single-Use Plastic Bags Are Banned.

Screen capture. Bag rage headlines

The problem we face isn’t bag rage; it’s bag indifference.

It’s all the rage, writing about “Bag rage” in Australia. Bag bans are coming into effect across Australia, and some people are angry about it. In one Woolworth’s store in Western Australia, a customer gave a store employee what’s known in Canada as a Shawinigan Handshake, grabbing her by the throat.

It’s not like people are being left bag-less; the stores offer a heavy-duty bag that can be reused for only 15 cents, and a fully reusable one for 99 cents. Nonetheless, employees are being sworn at. One tells “I am a checkout chick and was abused numerous times on my shift on Wednesday. But in great customer service we grin and bear it.” The News had a great headline though:

The whole world is laughing at us. AUSTRALIA, get a grip. We have to make a slight adjustment to the way we shop and people lose their minds to the point of violence.
Sun headline

Sun headline/Screen capture

The always reliable Sun in the UK turns that into quite the headline. But how bad is it really? After the original rage calmed down a bit, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) did a survey of its audience and found that “85.2 per cent said it's been great, with only 14.4 per cent saying it has sucked.”

Australian bags

© PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images

The people who objected the most were those who used the previously free bags as garbage bin liners.

I will now have to buy bin liners and small plastic bags for pet refuse. I'm not quite sure how that's helping the environment!

Others are supportive; one complained about her mom objecting but said “Everyone else with a brain realises it's necessary I think.” or:

Connect the dots between, 'I'm going to the shop', and 'I might need a bag to carry my shopping!' and you'll go a long way to preserving marine life and the natural beauty of Australia we value so much.

But my favourite comment is this sort of ambivalent one, that I think is typical of so many people:

Yes, environmentally it's great, and after seeing our beautiful oceans full of plastic bags and litter, I wished we could do without. But it's just not practical. Most shopping I do is returning home from being out, not necessarily planned.

Which sums it up; yes, I know it is important to save the oceans but it isn’t convenient for me. I can’t be bothered. It’s the honest response, actually; it’s the explanation for single use cups that fill our dumps and litter our streets and the plastic bags we see everywhere. It’s why we really need bans and bag charges and deposits on everything, because people just can’t be bothered.

The problem we face isn’t bag rage; it’s bag indifference.