Budget box, boys and girls on bags, and behaviour changes

March 15, 2008 at 4:32 pm | Posted in Bags, Behaviour change, Boys, Budget, Children, Environment, Girls, Photos from Yahoo!, Plastic bags, Recycling, Reusable, School, Single-use | Leave a comment

Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling with Budget box outside No. 11 Downing Street 12 March 2008

This week, we Brits suffered the (inter)national embarrassment of a petty, weak-kneed budget brought to us by The Chancellor of the Exchequer. It did nothing significant to address the key challenges facing the world or our nation, imho. Boring business as usual—tinkering around the edges of a clogged system with a feather duster, for fear of upsetting something or someone—is like dusting the deckchairs on the Titanic.

Seeing Alistair Darling holding the ancient battered briefcase (Gladstone’s old Budget box) aloft outside No. 11 Downing Street, one of our kids asked:

“If he is Darling, who is BlackAdder?”

(Mr. Bean has already been identified.)

This is the same child whose friends started a petition to ban single-use plastic bags at school two weeks ago. Quite simply, responding to front-page headlines and CBBC chatter, four lads decided they would walk around the playground and ask other under-10s to sign their petition to avoid plastic bags, or reuse them if not possible to avoid entirely (like when your rugby boots are covered in wet mud and you know your mum will get mad if you mix all that mud in with the rest of your sports kit, so you wrap them in a carrier bag). On day one, they collected 87 signatures, rising to 123 by day 2. The ban took effect immediately—the day after signing!

A granny-style string bag was supplied to one of the lads to carry his swim kit in. We discovered it is considered so cool, I shall have to dig out more from my cubby-hole. This is even before they read the label ‘Made in California” 😉

Compare that instant action with the Chancellor’s mere budget threats hoping for voluntary progress:

The Government today threatened to impose legislation early next year forcing retailers to charge for plastic bags unless they make “sufficient progress on a voluntary basis” by the end of 2008.

A voluntary basis for action depends on interest and willingness upon the part of the volunteers. It must be said that on commitment and implementation, the middle-schoolers are way ahead of most adults!

Meanwhile, for the girls, I have just discovered this in today’s Times online:

Melanie McDonaghOpening quoteAre women finally seeing sense? (Sales of the “it” bag are set to plummet – a significant sign of the economic downturn)Closing quote

If you are a man, this phenomenon may have passed you by. You may have noticed that your wives or girlfriends, if high maintenance, are wearing bags of inordinate size, possibly in scary purple or green. But the nice distinction between, say, the Blow Bag – Alexander McQueen’s tribute to Isabella Blow – and the Bay Bag by Chloé, is likely to be lost on you.

Which is tragic for the women concerned, because they cost £985 and £886 respectively. As so often in fashion, the phenomenon is down to women buying to impress other women.


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