Apologies for the Labor Day delay:
Grab your hippie-hemp bag, the little shop of package-free horrors is open (Sept. 3)
Often, when I tell the young woman on the supermarket till that I do in fact need a couple of bags to carry my shopping home, I get the sort of contemptuous look that leaves me in no doubt that I alone am responsible for the flooding in Houston and the plight of that idiotic polar bear we saw on the BBC last week trying to eat a walrus.
I know I've been bad. I know I should have turned up with a reusable bag made from hemp or mud, and that the oil used to make the plastic for my new, use-once-and-chuck-away carrier bag would have been better employed in the engine of my Range Rover, or in Alan Sugar's hair. I know all that.
But I don't shop like normal people. I drive around until I see a parking space and then I go to whatever stores happen to be near it. You go out to get washing powder and you come home with washing powder. Me? I never know what I'm going to come home with. It could be a new shirt or a stone otter or a Lamborghini. And I can't possibly be expected to carry around a selection of hippie-hemp organic bags to cope with such a wide range of possibilities.
I hate waste as much as anyone else.
And I especially hate wasteful packaging.
I hope there is a special place in hell's sewerage system reserved for the people at Gillette, whose products are sold in such robust packaging that to get at the razor itself you need an axe and two hand grenades.
The other day I found a parking space near Tottenham Court Road in central London, so I went into a computer shop and bought a memory stick thing. It was the size of a woodlouse but it came in a plastic display cabinet that was about 2ft across. That made me angry.
And that's why my eye was caught last week by the antics of a former Manchester United footballer called Richard Eckersley. Actually, let's be clear on this point. Although Eckersley did grace the subs' bench at Man U on a few occasions, he later joined Burnley and spent most of the time being loaned to clubs such as Plymouth Argyle before ending up in defence at the powerhouse of international football ? Toronto FC. Both of the Canadian team's supporters remember well how he helped them to a big win over the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Anyway, Eckythump is now back in Britain and has opened a shop in Devon where nothing at all is packaged. This fills my heart with joy, and I hope one day a nearby parking space is free as I drive by so I can pop in and buy some of his, er ... well, that's where the problems start.
Mr Eebygum and his lovely wife, Nicola, are plainly very environmentally aware and wish to tread lightly.
They have called their business Earth.Food.Love. And as far as I can see, all of what they sell is expensive, revolting or pointless.
There's toothpaste, for instance, that isn't packaged. I'm not entirely sure how that works. And then there are bamboo toothbrushes, which Mr Eebygum seems to like a lot. He tells us they're made by a German company that says "we all need water ... to live". Crikey. These eco-boys are sharp. Until the manufacturer goes on to say that "every living being arises from a drop of water". Really? I thought it was sperm.
Naturally, you can buy reusable sanitary towels that come from a community project in India and reusable sandwich wraps that are made by the inmates at a Scottish prison.
And then we get to the food, and I'm afraid there's nothing here for me at all. It's beans, pulses, nuts, seeds, grains and various other things I wouldn't even put in a budgerigar's mouth. Apparently, the shop's most popular feature is its "grind-your-own nut butter machine". Honestly. You couldn't be more right-on unless you were serving delicate pieces of Diane Abbott wrapped in old copies of The Guardian.
Now, I'm not daft. I know that there are many people who enjoy eating the same food as their pets. I stayed with a friend last week whose 17-year-old son is very thin. And when you looked in her cupboards you could see why. There was nothing in there a boy human would think about eating unless he was trapped in a desert cave and the only alternative was his arm.
The trouble is that mothers such as this, and lunatics in Islington and Mr Eckythump, are so earnest that even when they have a sensible idea, normal people, who drive cars and eat sausages and don't buy organic carrots because they're too hard to peel, put their fingers in their ears and hum.
A shop where nothing is sold with packaging is a brilliant idea. But not when it only sells stuff that appeals to cyclists and squirrels. I would love to buy Frosties without a packet, and Vesta curries and butter. Smokers, I'm sure, would love to buy cigarettes loose rather than in a box covered in pictures of someone's diseased throat. And much as I adore Nespresso coffee and the elegance of the machines that make it, I do despair at the sheer amount of effort and money and energy that's gone into making and transporting those capsules.
There's another thing too. Because there's so much packaging in our lives, our wheelie bins fill more quickly. Now that might not be too much of an issue for you, but the drive to my cottage in the country is half a mile long.
So, as I'm dragging the bin full of used coffee capsules over the cattle grids, which is not easy, in the rain and the wind, I have sometimes entertained the idea of taking one of those Nespresso machines and ramming it up George Clooney's behind.