About a month ago I made a conscious decision not to use disposable plastic bags. I’ve only used one since. Admittedly it’s left me feeling slightly shifty on more than one occasion as I leave supermarkets with a receipt in one hand whilst my pockets spill over. But in saying no to plastic bags I’m helping to decrease the demand, with a distribution in excess of over 500 billion per year (over 7.4 billion in the UK averaging 133 bags per person) with less than 3% of these being recycled. Recycling of course still requires resources and so it is best to not use them in the first place. Of course whilst I’m not adding to my collection, there is always that collection in the cupboard (the average household has a stash of 40). But if you don’t actually re-use them, then recycle them and fill that cupboard with cookies and get yourself a bag you love and can have a long-term relationship with; a bag for life, a backpack, a tote. The all familiar bags in question are made of polyethylene and can take up to 1,000 years to break down in landfills, provided that’s where they end up – 90% of plastics in our oceans come from our continents.
In the 1988 and 1998 floods in Bangladesh, plastic bags clogged the drains and increased flood severity, they were consequently banned. On the 5th October this year the UK Governments policy to charge 5p for all single use plastic carrier bags in large shops in England will be introduced. It is estimated that the charge will help to reduce bag consumption by up to 80% in large supermarkets. Why not just cut them out completely like Bangladesh and France (single use plastic bags will be banned as of 2016)? They aren’t any good to us.
Do you even like plastic bags?
No didn’t think so.
How to end your relationship with the bag.
Leave reusable bags within/on your mode of transport or by the door to your house. Keep a tote in your pocket. Use a backpack. Keep bags inside of bags, it’s easy to end up with more shopping/whatever you put in your bag than anticipated so always bring more than anticipated. Having a variety of bags to hand is good as it can seem a little weird putting your new shorts in next to your milk. And whilst you should ideally stick to material bags – sometimes plastic bags feel more appropriate. The only time I’ve slipped is when I bought pigs ears for the dog – I didn’t quite fancy sticking those loose in my pocket or my backpack at that, so having some in your collection can be quite useful. Don’t be embarrassed, I’ve asked for no bag and got one anyway, then proceeded to remove my packed items and give back the bag.
A bag is for life, not just for convenience.
JUST SAY NO (THANKS) TO PLASTIC.
Plastic Bag Update;
Since moving to Hong Kong I have used two plastic bags. Making my total for the past two months (or roundabout) three. The first I acquired in a supermarket. I had brought my backpack along for the shopping but having moved to a new country for a year I needed to buy more than I could squeeze in. The value of spares eh! It has since been used to hold my laundry. The second is rather stupid, I bought a bag from the market and the lady put it in a bag? Why? I was too distracted from haggling, wondering if I had got a good deal to reject it. That’ll be the spare from now on.