20: Take your bag-for-life to the shops

Simple Thing; plastic bagsWe all use plastic in many different forms every day. Many products are comprised of plastic but it is only a potential problem when it is thrown away. Most of the plastic that is disposed of comes from packaging such as plastic bags.

Personally, I shop in supermarkets at least two to three times a week. I often forget to take an alternative and end up using plastic bags from the shop.

Why are plastic bags so bad?

“Around 13bn plastic bags are given free to UK shoppers every year.

The bags can take between 400-1,000 years to break down, and like all forms of plastic they do not biodegrade. Instead they photodegrade, breaking down into smaller and smaller toxic bits that contaminate soil, waterways and oceans, entering the food chain when ingested by animals.

Many plastic bags end up as waste on our beaches, streets and parks. When a plastic bag enters the ocean it becomes a harmful piece of litter. Many marine animals mistake plastic bags for food and swallow them, with painful and often fatal consequences. Nearly 90% of floating marine litter is plastic.”

Jessica Aldred, The Guardian

 “A great variety of animals, land and especially marine, can choke to death on bags, experiencing much pain and distress. If swallowed whole, animals may not be able to digest real food and die a slow death from starvation or infection.”

– The Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority (NT EPA)

Simple Things

There are several easy ways to control and reduce your plastic consumption especially plastic bag use:

  • Use your handbag for wrapped products, a rucksack or how about lining your handbag.
  • Most supermarkets offer multiple use bags. Although they often require an initial purchase the supermarket will usually replace them if they wear out free of charge.
  • You could also use an old tote or other bag of your own as your shopping bag.
  • Several supermarkets will offer loyalty points for not using plastic bags from the till.
  • If you’re feeling crafty, check out fused plastic crafts on Pinterest to easily create a reusable bag or anything else that takes your fancy just by ironing your disposable plastic bags.

Taking a bag to the supermarket is not a new thing. There is even a song about it. Yes. A song. Listen to ‘Canvas Bags’ by British comedian Tim Minchin. Enjoy!

Canvas bags - Tim Minchin

Research and writing – Rebecca Vaal


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