Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

I'm a Stripper on a Mission&; &to Rip the Packaging off Every Item I Buy and Hand It Back to the Retailer

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

I'm a Stripper on a Mission&; &to Rip the Packaging off Every Item I Buy and Hand It Back to the Retailer

Article excerpt

THIS is direct action!" I say with relish to a bearded man standing behind me

in the queue at Tesco's. "I am liberating my apples!" He looks at me as if I'm barking mad, and then glances pointedly at his watch.

This disrobing at the checkout is certainly taking some time, but, hey, I'm doing it with the blessing of a Government minister. Not long ago, Ben Bradshaw at the Department of the Environment suggested that the best way to deal with excessive packaging was to dump it at the checkout, forcing supermarkets to deal with their own mess. This week, having discovered that each of us chucks out our own bodyweight in packaging every two months, I am on a mission: to go naked in the Brighton branch of Tesco.

Under the critical eye of Beard Man, I have already relieved my kiwis of their polystyrene tray, and shuffled a cucumber, rather shyly, out of its shrink-wrap sleeve. I'm just about to move on to the plums when Maureen at the till offers to give me a hand. "It's terrible, all this packaging, isn't it?" she says gravely, easing a bunch of Fairtrade bananas from their plastic wrap.

"Look! Bananas in a bag! And they come with their own natural packaging they've even got a zip!" Beard Man is beginning to twitch and shift from foot to foot, eyeing up the other tills where he might avoid the lunatic eco-fringe.

But Maureen and I are on a roll, tumbling onions and freerange leeks into my hardy cotton shopping bag. "You won't be wanting any plastic bags, then?" she says, beaming.

No, indeed not. "Here," she adds, "let me take all that rubbish away for you."

"Will you recycle?" I ask, hardly daring to believe that Tesco, the nation's bully grocer, has come so far on its ethical odyssey. "Oh yes," says Maureen, as if this happens every day.

It doesn't, of course. Not yet. While many of us cringe inwardly as great piles of polystyrene foam, foil jerkins and cardboard sleeves sail past us at the checkout a pile that has increased by 12 per cent between 1999 and 2005, and now accounts for onethird of an average household's total waste few are willing to ride the embarrassment of undressing our snacks and getting our melons out in public. …

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