Last weekend Nick Clegg announced that from 2015 all plastic bags in ‘supermarkets and larger stores’ will carry a charge of 5p. Although personally I feel that 5p is unlikely to make a huge amount of difference, I think that this is definitely a step in the right direction, and this prompted me to explore alternatives to plastic bags in today’s post.
I have not yet entirely eliminated plastic bags from my life. I mainly use them as bin liners and bin bags, and I reuse them when I go shopping. Every time someone in the house gets a new plastic bag (for whatever reason), it’s saved and we use them until they break. This means that we get the maximum use out of them.
Of course, because plastic is a material that takes thousands of years to break down, I think that it’s important to use as few plastic bags as possible. I’ve heard so many stories about birds feeding bits of plastic to their chicks, and of sea animals choking or starving to death due to mistakenly eating plastic. The less that we put into the environment the better.
I’ve already posted some ideas about making bags out of t-shirts (see Week 7: Reusing Old Clothes). You could also investigate local craft markets if you don’t want to make your own, as lots of people sell bags and other things that they’ve made themselves. This will reduce the bag’s carbon footprint as it hasn’t had to travel as far, and will most likely be made of fabric rather than plastic, which is easier to reuse, and better for the environment.
You can also buy ‘bags for life’ from supermarkets and other shops to reuse, rather than flimsy plastic bags. I think that even if ‘bags for life’ are made from plastic, ultimately you’re going to be using less of them than you would of plastic bags that are designed to be disposable, so this is still a more environmentally friendly choice. There are also loads of reusable bags you can buy – including these from H&H, also available in gift shops, card shops and no doubt on many other websites, which are the perfect size to keep in your handbag, ready for when they’re needed.
- Refuse plastic bags in greengrocers and bakers – take your own bags or containers to use instead.
- Freeze items in containers (plastic or stainless steel) rather than plastic. Or wash and reuse plastic bags if you still want to use them.
- Look at the packaging that food, clothes etc. come in and try to buy items that aren’t so encased in plastic.
Good luck with your green efforts this week!