Thursday, 28 February 2008

Plastic Bags

Today's news has this story featuring quite heavily. Marks and Spencer will charge food customers 5p for every plastic carrier bag they use, the chain announced today.
Stuart Rose is often on breakfast news and he was there today announcing these plans.

I think it's a great idea.

C'mon own up. You've got a cupboard in your house stuffed to the gills with carrier bags. Haven't you? If you haven't then you're one of the very few households in the UK that doesn't keep tons of bags stuffed away.

About a year ago I decided to stop using plastic bags. I'd sorted out a huge bag of them and folded them up and took them to the local charity shop where they could reuse them.

Most people reuse bags. Or think they do. What they mean is they put them in the bin. Ok, they've got other rubbish in them, but they still go in the bin!
This is NOT reusing plastic bags!

Reusing means using them again and again. Not just once.

Making a concious decision to stop collecting them hasn't been easy. But here are my basic hints on what I did.

I collected some bags for life. Hardwearing plastic bags that are bigger than carrier bags and will last for years. When we go grocery shopping we take one with us.

I carry a folded up reusable bag, and a carrier in my everyday bag. I use these when I shop.

When I shop in Oldham I make a concious effort not to accept carrier bags. It was hard to start with. Shop's till staff are used to putting items in the plastic bag. Not having one means they have to hand me the items to put in my bag. It can be quite difficult though and every now and again I'll come home with a couple of plastic carriers.

I do think it's important more so to get a receipt though when you don't come out with a carrier bag - so if you go bagless then make sure all the shops give you a receipt. You don't want to set off an alarm later on in a shop and then have nothing to prove you paid for the items in your bag!

Sometimes we pop to the shops and we buy too much to fit in the bags we've taken. In this case we just put the things in the boot of the car or carry them home as they are. Most things you buy already have a layer of plastic around them so don't need another.

So next time you use a carrier bag to line your rubbish bin, STOP!

How many bags do you use a week lining bins? 3? 4? 5? That's over 150 a year if you use 3 bags a week so just think how much landfill you're saving.

And all the ones you do bring home by accident. Make sure they're clean and intact and fold them nicely and take them to your local charity shop.
The tatty ones can go in the recycling bags bin most supermarkets now have.

You don't need to get irate about people charging you 5p for a bag. Ireland have a bag tax which has substantially reduced the amount of bags used.
Be prepared and carry your own bags!

Note: Today GB has said he wants to cut the use of carrier bags
Gordon Brown has warned retailers he will force them to cut down on plastic bag use if they do not act voluntarily

Has he spotted a source of tax revenue?

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