News & Updates

Bags of opportunity?
Posted on Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Bags of opportunity?

You know you've got one. A bag full of other plastic bags that you keep at home – perhaps under the sink? Under the stairs? In the utility room?

A super stash of crumpled multi-coloured carrier bags labelled up with the supermarket brands left over from a year's worth of trips to the shops - waiting to be used and reused.

Sometimes they might feature as bin liners when you're desperate, be pushed into a handbag for a trip to the car boot sale or be used as a hand protector as you pick up a vermin-related present on the doorstep from your friendly feline (yes, it was a mouse this week!)

Every time I go to the supermarket I try to recycle some bags for my shop – sometimes I haven't taken enough, sometimes I've overused them and they are on their last legs. Mine get used a lot more than the average 20 minute lifespan of a carrier bag! Each time I seem to amass more. I have even seen satellite versions of the 'bag full of bags' spawning from the main bag.

I have noticed that people have already started to change their behaviour and be more environmentally friendly. They have embraced the fact that a trip to the supermarket now includes a handful of old carrier bags shoved into the front of their trolley, or the eco-friendly, patterned, hessian, bag for life type carefully stacked next to the  designer handbag. The bag for life was a major game changer. Some people have a stash of bags for life!

So the Government has finally relented and decided to force reluctant supermarkets and larger stores to impose 5p charge for a plastic bag by next October.

The toll, announced by the Queen today,  is expected to cut the use of plastic bags by at least three-quarters – at the moment more than eight million disposable bags are used in England each year. That's 130 per person. And environmental campaigners say that some bags can take up to 1,000 years to biodegrade.

So with my stash, and if I'm savvy on reusing them, I reckon I have enough bags to last me a good few years, without paying.

And if I do forget my bags and have to pay – well, that's OK. The announcement says the charge is expected to raise millions of pounds a year for charities and good causes likely to be nominated by stores. I might bring it up with a couple of my charity contacts to get in there early.