23 April 2005

Off my trolley

By Jacqui McCarney

My very personal, very grassroots and admittedly unusual eco-friendly campaign for 2005 is to establish the shopping trolley as a fashion accessory superior to a Saab or BMW - more subtle, more refined more intelligent by aeons and definitely way, way cooler. This may look like an uphill battle, it may sound like the ramblings of a very deeply disturbed mad woman - the shopping trolley after all seems to fit snugly into that gap between the last vestiges of independent living and institutionised care. The forward moving ones are often used as a kind of walking frame, and the pull along types are reminiscent of bag-ladies who carry all their worldly processions around with them.

This is, however, a deeply unfair and superficial view. Why is it only ridiculously expensive items are valued so religiously? Why can't older people be leaders of fashion too? Why, Oh Why, do we reserve such gluttonous desires for machines that poison the very oxygen we breath, destroy the health of our children in a multitude of ways eg: they can't get good healthy exercise by playing in their streets as children a few generations ago did and so they are becoming increasingly obese. There is a huge increase in the number of children with asthma caused by breathing in car fumes and unprecedented numbers are killed every year by cars when they do venture onto our street! This is before we mention the huge global problem of CO2 emissions from cars contributing heavily to climate change.

The unfortunate offspring of western civilization, if they do make it to the age of 18, may then find themselves packed off with inadequate protection to fight an unjustifiable war in order to procure more cheap oil for our oil guzzling society. As decent responsible members of the literate class we all claim to love our children! But how much! Enough to think! Enough to stop for a moment and look at the direction we are heading in.

The humble shopping trolley makes a gigantean leap to a simple and intelligent approach to hunter gathering in the 21st century. It enables the family provider to carry sufficient items without having to pile them, as quickly as possible in to the back of car. It enables the fore mentioned provider to walk some distance with their consumables perhaps even all the way home, or to the nearest bus stop, or better than private car, a taxi - thus reducing congestion and pollution in the city. The trolley does away with the necessity of using plastic bags - a throw-away item made primarily with our scarce oil reserves

Watching unthinking shoppers use plastic bags as if there were no tomorrow makes me quite literally C Red. And then, this makes me think of our very local initiative to cut carbon emissions and help our children to have a future. I can be then be heard muttering to the checkout girl about not wanting to go to war again so that we can get enough oil to make more plastic bags so that we can throw them away - so "no thank you I do not need a plastic bag". I mostly feel like a lone voice in the wilderness! But by now there is no stopping me and the next question is when is this supermarket going to start charging for plastic bags? I go to customer services and repeat the question and then I write it down and post it in their suggestion/complaints box. The hypocrisy of the supermarkets leads to blood pressuring, vein popping fury by the time I have reached those gracefully sliding exit doors. All the apparently, ethically sound, re-cycling bins stand like over stuffed elephants in the car park and yet supermarkets do nothing to pressurize manufacturers to reduce their hideous overpackaging and do nothing to encourage shoppers to reduce their consumption of plastic bags.

They did it very successfully in Ireland, they set a date for the introduction of charging on plastic bags; they explained their motives to the shoppers and won their support and on the big day shoppers turned out sporting their own shopping bags.

I appeal to all shoppers; let's see you out there with your own bags and to those really up market, fashion conscious ageless hip types I look forward to seeing you with your Rolla trolley. I will just smile and know that there goes a person with a brain and a soul.