Republic of Moreland

February 7, 2007

Bagging Coles Online

Filed under: environment,politics — Kath @ 11:40 pm

Greenhouse gas emissions are governments’ fault, and their problem. They’re the ones who under-regulated industry to the extent of gross negligence. (It was heartening, though, to read this report today.) But of course we can and should do our bit. Which is why I decided to embark on a greenhouse gas reduction plan. It went pear-shaped, thanks to Coles Online Shopping.

To do our bit for the planet, Bloke on the Avenue suggested giving up the family car, to which I’m addicted. (Bloke didn’t suggest one of his addictions, which conveniently are too obscure to emit carbon.) Fortunately, we live between three tram lines, so transport isn’t an issue. Except for me. I frequently take country trips to see my farming relatives, and I love hauling ebay junk, hard rubbish and bails of pea-straw about the joint. (The latter being for the chooks.)

But I nobly agreed on a plan to wean us off the car. We decided for long trips we might use the services of flexicar, a wonderful car-share service in Melbourne’s inner suburbs. We thought we’d try online shopping, as the shops within walking distance don’t stock organic stuff or recycled loo paper. I chose Coles because trying to navigate your way around Woolworth‘s online shopping is shithouse.

The picture above is the sort of package you get from Coles online shopping. Each item was placed in an individual plastic bag. That’s a bag for a milk carton, a bag for a piece of watermelon, a bag for a bottle of dishwashing liquid, and one for a bunch of bananas. Two of the bags carry three items each.

And what you can’t see is that if you order 500 grams of fetta, you’ll get five 100 gram lots, each in a small plastic bag within a takeaway container within a bigger plastic bag. That’s six plastic bags and five plastic takeaway containers for just half a kilo of fetta.

The plastic industry is apparently second only to the chemical industry in its generation of ozone-depleting substances, and shoppers have been lured into a false sense of security since recyclable bags were introduced. Most of these end up as landfill anyway, and still have adverse effects on the environment.

When I rang Coles to complain, I was, of course, put on hold. Not for long, but I had to listen to a cheerful voice trumpeting Coles’ environmental values. They took my complaint with grace, but I haven’t seen any changes.

So we’ve ditched the no-car plan. I suppose that makes me, like our soon-to-be former prime minister, a climate change realist.



  1. Hmm. Perhaps you should write to the Independent. They’re running a campaign against excess packaging and are inviting readers to write to to complain about absurdly packed goods. They will take it up with the offending company.

    At any rate, it would certainly be more effective to engage with the media or your MP than with Coles – they don’t care!

    Dan –

    Comment by danlewer — February 8, 2007 @ 12:56 am | Reply

  2. More important than all of this nonsense: ARE THEY ARE GENUINE PAIR OF NIGEL FEATHERSTONE CHAIRS IN THE BACKGROUND? I’ve been looking for a pair for years.

    Comment by Neighbourhood Pervert — February 8, 2007 @ 9:13 am | Reply

  3. Perhaps next time you order from Coles Online and the delivery wallah turns up, you can hand back all this packaging for re-use. Don’t ask the wallah if this is possible or permitted — just hand them over and say, “And there’s your packaging for re-use.” Tell the wallah you’ll be following it up with management to make sure it’s safely accounted for. And actually do so.

    Mind you, the elderly Greek woman at my local “milk bar” (corner shop in real language) instinctively reaches for a plastic bag for any purchase you can name. When you decline it, she looks genuinely shocked — every single time. It’s been months now. She seems to feel it’s shameful to walk down the street carrying a carton of milk in your hand. It’s cold and wet, after all. She also couldn’t believe I’d walk around with bog roll unbagged, either. Onlookers obviously would deduce that I wiped my arse, to my eternal humiliation.

    All of which makes me recall an episode in Slovenia in 1996. I bought some supplies in a grocery. They were sold to me unbagged. I didn’t have a string or canvas shopping bag like all the other folks there, so asked for a plastic one. The shopkeeper looked at me like I was from space. Eventually, with a few hurrumphs to indicate that I was evidently a total dinkus (or perhaps an Austrian), she rooted around under the counter and produced a very old and tattered plastic bag, which she then sold to me for 10 tolars (about 10 cents at the time). I then left with my purchases spilling out and everyone shaking their heads like I was a Serb.

    Now that’s how you do it, I thought gleefully. Embarrass the bag-using bastards. Right on, Slovenes!

    Comment by Bane of Malakas — February 8, 2007 @ 10:21 am | Reply

  4. I must confess, Bane, that I do stare at those shoppers at the check-out queue who haven’t brought bags, and I self-righteosly plonk mine on the counter.

    Then I have to eat my smugness when I forget to bring mine.

    Wasn’t there talk of supermarkets charging for bags in Australia?

    Comment by Girl on The Avenue — February 8, 2007 @ 7:41 pm | Reply

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