Plastic has become one of the symbols showing the impact of people on the environment. It’s a fossil fuel hungry resource and plastic bags litter the world. Something that has come to symbolise consumerism is causing untold damage on the natural world. Our oceans are full of plastic wreaking havoc on wildlife.
Finally, as of Monday this week, we have a 5p charge for plastic bags. Hopefully this small fee will make people think about their impact upon the world around us when shopping. In countries where the charge has been in force for a while there has been a dramatic decline in plastic bag usage, which can only be a good thing.
The challenge has been the short shelf-life of plastic bags. They might be used only once or twice before ending up in land-fill or worse discarded in the countryside or at the coast. Charging for plastic bags will not solve the massive challenge of climate change and the need to cut our emissions and curb our hunger for fossil fuels. But it’s a start. Like recycling we need people to change their behaviour and think as individuals and families about their impact on the environment.
I reckon that on average I use six to eight plastic bags a week when shopping. That might only be up to 40p a week if buying bags but if you multiply that across a city like Bath, where I live, that is a lot of bags and a lot of five pence pieces. So like the rise of micro volunteering (giving small chunks of time to charity regularly) why not use this moment to start some micro-donating to local charities. Yes 80% of the money raised by plastic bag charges will go to charity but why not use other bags and make that figure 100%.
You could either pop the pennies into a collection tin or work out your annual equivalent spend on plastic bags based on the charge and make a one off donation. This sort of support has the potential to make a massive difference to local charities and it links a good environmental change in behaviour with a good in terms of much financial support for a local charity.
And hopefully this charge for plastic bags will make us all think about the wider impact of rubbish on where we live and the the impact on the places that we love.