• Small Sustainable Swaps

Shopping Bags

According to gov.uk 'In 2014 over 7.6 billion single-use plastic bags were given to customers by major supermarkets in England. That’s something like 140 bags per person, the equivalent of about 61,000 tonnes in total.' This is an incredible amount of plastic bags and I will confess I used to be really careless in my use of bags.


The 5p plastic bag levy was introduced in October 2015 to try and reduce the use of single use plastic bags. The idea was to encourage people to reuse bags or use alternatives. Since its introduction the use of bags has reduced by more than 80%. A positive step in the right direction. Another benefit is the levy is meant to be used to fund good cause projects.


I will admit that I am not always great at remembering to take a bag, especially if I am just popping somewhere unexpectedly. However, I have been trying to improve in this area. One way I have done this is to ensure I always have a store of bags in the boot of my car. This store of bags is a mix of plastic bags that I already have and cotton/canvas bags. It is also good to try and keep a small foldaway bag in a handbag when going out.


This swap has been especially difficult during Lockdown as we usually get our food delivered. Prior to this time bags were no longer being used for deliveries but to speed up delivery times and reduce contamination they are being used again. This is expected to be a temporary measure, but it has left us with many plastic bags which we are trying to reuse and we will take to the plastic bag recycling later.


Cotton totes can be great gifts. They come in a variety of sizes and designs. Additionally they can be personalised to add a special touch. I have one, which I use for carrying school bits in, which was from one of my pupils a few years ago. It has my name on it so should I leave it somewhere around school it would be easy for it to get back to me.


I also find that cotton totes are usually stronger than standard plastic bags so they tend to be able to hold more therefore you need fewer bags.


You can find these bags in supermarkets, other high street stores, online and even at tourist attractions. Give them a try, I'm sure you will love them.


Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/single-use-plastic-carrier-bags-why-were-introducing-the-charge/carrier-bags-why-theres-a-5p-charge

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