Plastic carrier bags vs paper bags

Dear Britain,

Plastic bagsEvery year, over 17.5 billion plastic carrier bags are given out by supermarkets to enable you to take your shopping home. We all collect bags of bags, reusing maybe 5% of them at most, and disposing of the rest either by dropping them in those big supermarket bins, or at home in the usual rubbish.

The above is crap. Completely, utterly crap.

What I want everyone to ask next time they go to the supermarket is whether there are brown paper bags to use as an alternative. I find it shocking that none of the big shops, Sainsbury’s, Tesco or Asda, offer paper bags. They offer reusable bags, but being realistic, the vast majority of people are disorganised and forget their reusable bags at home, or they go immediately after work without popping home.

Supermarkets, please get brown paper bags into the stores. People, demand them and use them.

I’m far from an environmentalist and I know I probably leave a Bigfoot-sized carbon footprint on the planet, but this is one area where I think we’d all benefit.

Thank you.

Peace, love and H2O,

5 thoughts on “Plastic carrier bags vs paper bags

  1. Darren Barefoot

    I don’t want to disagree with you, because any green ethos is a good thing. In Vancouver, though, I learned something interesting last year. I was talking to the deputy mayor about Ireland’s extremely effective plastic bag levy.

    He said it was a good idea, but not a priority for him. He said that plastic bags make up 3% of Vancouver’s landfills, while organic waste comprises 50%. Plastic bags last longer, but the more pressing issue may be finding a spot for all that organic waste.

  2. Gustaf Erikson

    Here in Sweden a plastic bag costs about 1 SEK, which is about 7p. If each bag cost 10p there would be a wider incentive to either reuse them or use them as bin liners.

    Where I live, we separate trash to be incinerated from organic trash that’s composted. For the organic trash, we use corn-starch liners (free for those living in our area). The plastic shopping bags are used for the trash to be incinerated, which means that the bags are essentially fossil fuel. They replace oil or coal (or rather they are oil but in a different form).

  3. Aranil

    Yay! Though the US demands that every grocery store carry both paper and plastic, guess what gets used the most? Surprise, surprise… plastic. They should make both options available but instead to defaulting to plastic, why not paper? It’s not like anyone cares anyway.

    The Swedish idea on plastic bags sounds pretty nice by the way. 🙂

  4. Chris Joseph

    Spot on, and this is something that is so easy to change if people demand it loudly. The town of Modbury in Devon in the UK banned all plastic bags completely, which was incredibly popular with residents not least because these damn things don’t just end up in landfills, they also end up being blown everywhere else in the cities and countryside too.

  5. Joelle

    Moutain Equipment Coop (dear old MEC) has the solution with biodegradable “plastic” bags. They’re as convenient as plastic bags but after a while (few weeks at least) you can throw them out because they’ll get weaker. Of course MEC asks every customer if they REALLY need a bag for the item they bought and if they say no, MEC gives a few cents to ecofriendly charities.

    My opinion is that it should be a law that all bags be biodegradable, just like energy-saving lightbulbs are in some areas.

    As for composting, organic waste doesn’t scare me at all compared to hard plastics that hang around for 100 000s years…

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