Well, of course it isn't - there are many things for which the right kind of plastic is the best material to use - but the days of non-biodegradable bags from shops and supermarkets definitely look numbered. Which means less litter, less buried in landfill sites, or dumped in the sea; and less use of oil for the manufacture of these plastic bags. And back to brown paper.
I was delighted to get my fruit in brown paper bags yesterday. An out-of-town farm shop, but in other respects just like a high-street shop.
Brown paper bags, and other kinds of paper-based bags, or even just newspaper, had been the norm when I was young for nearly all goods, from fruit and veg and cheese and sugar to bacon and fish and eggs and nuts. But at some point, even in street markets, everything was popped into white plastic bags instead. I suppose because they were less inclined to tear, and might even have been cheaper for the retailer or stallholder to buy. But, in the nature of these things, they were too insubstantial to be reused, and many just ended up blowing about in the breeze. One thing about a wet brown paper bag: it does fall apart. It becomes a soggy pulp, and quickly returns to the soil.
There are downsides to paper, of course. I wouldn't want to see the remaining rain forests chopped down so that we can all switch from plastic to paper. But we all recycle now, so that can be avoided. I'd also like to see more general use of 'clever' brown paper, the kind that is moisture-resistant and heat-sealable, so long as it can still be recycled. Mind you, I wouldn't welcome back the notorious Tetrapak milk carton, unless they have managed to improve it, so that it doesn't squirt milk everywhere when you try to open it.
The use of paper seems rather retro. So why not go the whole hog, and start using shopping baskets again? The sort housewives used when popping around the corner to do the morning's local shopping? A wickerwork basket like this?
In a 2018 context, they could easily be popped into a shopping trolley, then loaded up at the till, before carrying them in style to the boot of one's all wheel drive car. A car like mine indeed. If I had such a basket, it would cause a sensation at Waitrose.
Well, why don't I get one?