The husband came home huffing and puffing this week after a visit to our local Countdown.

He'd been told he'd have to buy a reusable plastic bag in which to put his shopping as our local is one of the 10 Countdown supermarkets leading the charge in phasing out single-use bags by the end of the year.

New World has also pledged to get rid of single-use plastic bags by the end of the year and Farro has introduced biodegradable bags.

The husband said if Countdown was doing away with plastic bags, why was he being told he'd have to pay for one?


And the lovely woman at the checkout explained, as she's probably had to do a thousand times, that this was a reusable bag and he just had to bring it with him the next time he shopped and he wouldn't have to pay for another.

I've visited my family in London a couple of times and it's exactly what you do there. England has seen an 85 per cent reduction of single-use plastic bags - according to the Guardian, it's down from 140 to 25 bags for the average shopper over a year.

And that has to be a good thing for the environment. The same Guardian article also reported that there had been a 30 per cent drop in the numbers of plastic bags found on the ocean floor in a marine area that has been studied for more than 25 years.

So all in all a jolly good thing - although I'm glad we don't still have our dog, as the supermarket bags were perfect for disposing of poop.

And I've decided the rubbish bin will go commando and I'll have to rinse it out after each use, rather than opt for the expediency and convenience of plastic bag liners.

I'm already composting, which will minimise the gross factor, but there will still be residue from the likes of packets of meat and fish that will make the rinsing-out process one of those domestic chores on a par with cleaning out the shower plug.

And therein lies the rub - it's all very well and good doing away with single-use plastic bags - but what about the plastic-wrapped products in the supermarkets and other stores?

Why on Earth are some plastic storage containers wrapped in bloody plastic?

Why are avocados put on polystyrene trays and wrapped in plastic?

I get particularly incensed when I'm sent review books by publishers in boxes packed with polystyrene chips.

They're books. They're not going to break.

Every industry, manufacturer and retailer needs to take a long hard look at the way they're packaging and sending out their products because there is no point in creating an environmental hazard when there is no need.

Academic David Christian, who co-founded the Big History Project with Bill Gates, says that in the 20th century, humans introduced so rapid and such massive change to the way they livedthat our species has become the equivalent of a new geological force.

It is, he says, the first time in the four-billion-year history of our biosphere that a single biological species has become a dominant force for change.

Because this is uncharted territory we have to take our cues from the environment around us, and he says we need to take notice of the warning signs - rising carbon-dioxide levels, declining biodiversity and melting glaciers.

I know there are those who refuse to believe that the planet is in a parlous state.

But surely, whatever your views on climate change, everyone agrees that unnecessary waste is foolish and counter-intuitive to an efficient way of living.

And reducing the numbers of plastic bags in the environment is a very good place to start.

Kerre McIvor's Sunday Sessions is on NewstalkZB today, 9am-noon.