I find shopping in a supermarket to be a minefield of ethical decisions. Fairtrade, organic, seasonal, local, high welfare? Should I be shopping there in the first place, when the high street is in trouble? And how do I balance ethics with my budget? Now there is a new moral quandary to add to the list - do I scan and shop?
In my area the battle for the high street has been lost; I have no local greengrocer, fishmonger, butcher or baker. It takes me 15 minutes to walk to a very busy T*sco Extra, which stocks just about anything you are likely to want to buy from tomatoes to televisions. In the last few weeks they have introduced a new system which I tried out this week. I was issued with a hand-held scanner, and as I did my shopping I scanned each item and packed it straight into a bag. When I had finished I used a self-service till to pay - no unpacking and repacking at the checkout.
I quite enjoyed it, the scanner beeped satisfyingly at each item and showed me how much it cost and my running total. I did a weekly shop for a family of four in just over an hour. So far, so good. Now for the moral quandary - there is obviously less need for staff with this system. An assistant poked around in my shopping to make sure I wasn't making off with a leg of lamb, but she was in charge of eight tills rather than one. So am I depriving people of work? Am I contributing to the dehumanizing of society? Or am I pining after a world of friendly shopkeepers which no longer exists, and should I bravely face the future, scanner in hand? Should I stop worrying so much?!