Monday, 7 January 2013

Let's Reduce Plastic Bag Use in England in 2013

Caroline Lucas and Natalie Bennett propose three easy environmental resolutions to aim for in 2013: 20mph speed limits, a levy on plastic bags and reducing night lighting would cost little but deliver significant benefits.

You can't change the speed limit or even introduce a levy on plastic bags on your own, and unless you own a shop with neon lighting you can't do anything about that yourself, although you can find like-mined people and lobby your local council to do something about these things and that would be a good idea.

Plastic bags can be a real eyesore
One thing you can do something about, though, is decide not to use any more free, flimsy, single-use plastic bags. It seems the use of these bags rose by around 5% to 6.75bn in the past year in England alone. Of 8 billion carrier bags given out by supermarkets in the UK, 6.75 billion were given out in England.  In other parts of the UK, as well as in China and much of Europe, there is already a levy on plastic bags. In fact even Mauritania has just banned them because many cattle and sheep that die in the capital, Nouakchott, have been killed by eating plastic bags.

If you wonder why you should find an alternative to these flimsy plastic bags this slide show gives you a number of reasons. In fact sending them to be recycled isn't really the answer, either as it costs a lot more to recycle bags than to produce new ones.

Even worse, plastic bags can kill
Reducing your own use of these bags may only be a small step but it cuts the pointless use of  resources. If they were not freely available it would also help to clean up our towns, cities, countryside rivers and seas, reducing the harm to all kinds of birds and animals, even in our seas.

Even in landfill they may take 1,000 years or more to break down into ever smaller particles that continue to pollute the soil and water.

Finally, producing plastic bags requires millions of gallons of petroleum that could be used for transportation or heating.

To reduce your own plastic bag use you need to invest in a few reusable bags and get into a new routine. Keep one or two lightweight bags with you in your coat pocket or main bag so that you are prepared for most small purchases. If you like to do a big shop by car invest in enough reusable, strong, plastic or jute bags to accommodate your shopping and keep those in the boot. You'll find you can fold two or three and store them in one jute bag.

To try and get something done about reducing plastic bags in general why not sign this e-petition.  If enough of us sign this petition, the government might actually do something about it.


  1. That's great, Gai. I believe if these petitions get a certain amount of signatures the government do have to give the matter serious consideration.


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