REMEMBER a few years ago we were all urged to give plastic bags the elbow?
Some stores even began to charge for them to discourage their use and lots of people bought canvas shopping bags.
This was one of those moves to save the world. Well, a bit of it. It also gave those who bought a reusable bag a sense of righteous well-being. Carrying a plastic bag was seen in some quarters as anti-social behaviour.
The town of Modbury in Devon became the first town to ban them and dozens of other communities asked for their help to follow their lead.
That movement has slowly died the death. Many shoppers have reverted to bad habits.
But are they bad habits?
I read that a report from the Environment Agency says that ordinary plastic bags are actually greener than the alternatives.
They are almost 200 times less damaging to the climate than cotton bags and have less than one third of the CO2 emissions than paper bags of the sort that are given out by retailers such as Primark.
To redress the balance, the cotton bag would have to be used every working day for 34 weeks. A paper bag would have to be used three times.
The report suggests paper bags are used only once and cotton bags only 51 times before being thrown away.
Of course, plastic bags have an impact on the environment. Six billion are used in the UK every year. But banning them is not the easy fix to save the world (or even a bit of it) that it once seemed.
We have never stopped using plastic bags although we do recycle them. We use them for rubbish and my wife Maria takes others to be used in the Kirkwood Hospice shop where she works.
The report was commissioned in 2005 and scheduled for publication in 2007 about the time the campaign started to ban the plastic bag. It still hasn’t seen the light of day. I wonder why?