Supermarkets in Australia have done a wonderful job in promoting the use of re-useable bags instead of plastic. In the express lanes, you don't get a plastic bag at all if you buy three items or less. They have signs up telling you how many plastic bags are used on average each day, and it's a nastily high number. They have Green Bags for sale for only $1 each next to the check-outs. All of this is fantastic.
The next thing to combat is receipts! A receipt is printed automatically for every transaction, no matter how small. And lets face it, how many people think of recycling receipts? A receipt should only be printed if requested. Let it be the customer's onus to ask for one if required, otherwise save the paper!!! Ditto with the bleeding fuel vouchers! I don't want 4 cents a litre off fuel, because I don't drive. Ask before printing that out on more paper which could be saved for something useful! Yesterday I went into Big W and bought 2 DVDs. The receipt for these two (2) items only, is 39 cm long. That's about 15 or 16 inches, I think. It's also 8 cm wide. Three hundred and twelve square centimetres of paper to demonstrate that I purchased two items, and to offer me a discount I won't use.
Shall we, for the moment, assume that most people go to Big W for a few specific things. Nobody does their grocery shopping there, or buys more than about 5 items at once. Lets say 5 items will take up 40 cm in length, 320 square centimetres, that's 64 square cm per item. It can't be just me who finds that excessive!
Big W makes about 3.5 billion dollars in annual profit. Lets forget about overheads for the moment, and work with this figure (but bear in mind their real intake of money and therefore useage of paper will be much larger). Take an average item cost of $50. That comes to seven hundred thousand items sold, at 64 square cm of paper per item. Ten thousand nine hundred and thirty-seven point five square centimetres, or 109.375 square metres, of receipt paper, most of which gets thrown straight into the bin. Don't even get me started on the ink!
So who will join me in my spur-of-the-moment campaign against receipts?! God, how would we even start? Should we write to Big W, Woolworths, Walmart, and so on? Perhaps a letter to the editor of a prominent newspaper. Or will this simple blog piece get the message out there? No matter, my minions, go forth and refuse receipts!!!