The power of the written word … or not

Edward Bulwer-Lytton wrote that the pen was mightier than the sword.  Mark Twain said, “Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel and paper by the ton”.  They recognised that words have power.  Which is why this Tesco sign is so disappointing: it reeks of apathy and arm twisting (“It’s not us charging!  The government is making us do it!”).


This was snapped at the Pewsham Tesco Express during the past weekend’s Community Clean Up. Can you read the fine print? Me neither. Zooming in on the photo, it’s possible to see: “Tesco, like other large retailers, will be required by law to charge a minimum of 5p for every new single use carrier bag used by a customer, from Monday 5th October 2015. All proceeds generated from sale of the bags will be given to good causes as set out by Defra (Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs). It’s all part of the Government’s drive to reduce waste. We’ve got some really exciting plans that will give our customers the chance to make a difference to good causes locally and nationally, for more information please visit“

Can’t you just feel their excitement? 

I am currently working on a blog entry regarding the recently introduced bag fee, but I wanted to post this in light of yesterday’s comments about Tesco’s role in the litter found in nearby. Tesco has been hit with a well-publicised backlash to the bag charge, and I do wonder if some of the problem stems from their inability to ensure customer buy-in … perhaps because it’s clear that they haven’t bought into the idea themselves.


A quick and dirty mock up of the same sign … but I hope you agree with a more positive feel than the original. I just wish I could easily edit out the image of the plastic carrier bag – it sends an incongruent message.

And don’t underestimate the power of humour and empathy (yes, change sucks) to get a message across.

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