Plastic Bag-Free CSP

Would you like a Plastic Bag Free CSP?

On 3 December 2010, at the Chalfont St Peter fun night, C4C launched its campaign to reduce or eliminate the use of plastic bags along our High Street.

There are some campaigns that are an uphill struggle, and then there are those when you realise that you are pushing at an open door. This seems to be one of the latter! People were really keen to sign our petition and within a couple of hours, we had over 150 signatures.

We would love this campaign to grow, and if you are interested in taking part, please get in touch.

Why plastic bags?

It seems to us that the plastic bag is the most ubiquitous example of disposable plastic. We see it handed out with abandon by some shops, our cupboards are full of them, and we can’t avoid seeing them scattered throughout the urban landscape and the countryside blowing gently in the wind.

We are, of course, concerned with the reduction of all disposable, single-use or short-term use plastic items and excess plastic packaging. However, we thought that plastic bags would be a good place to start. Amazingly, 10 million plastic bags are used in the UK every day, with an average user life of ….20 minutes. Worldwide, we use 1 million per minute.

This has loads of implications; firstly, what a waste of the materials that go to make these bags. Secondly, the manufacturing process is fuelled by oil – and we don’t have a whole huge amount left, so maybe we should be more careful with it. Finally, plastic bags are often disposed of carelessly, and even when they are thrown away properly, they take a long time to break down, and when they do, they don’t biodegrade – they photodegrade, which basically mean that they break down into very small particles which get absolutely everywhere. So however carefully you get rid of your plastic bags, and unless you recycle them, then chances are that they will get into the eco-system and pollute it hugely. The water that we drink contains tiny shards of plastic; it is in our crop fields and in the sea. Inevitably, we consume it.

This all begs the question – when we throw something away – where is ‘away’? It doesn’t cease to exist, it just moves to where we can’t see it. Except in the case of plastic bags, of course, which we usually can.

So if we campaign to reduce plastic bag usage here, then we are trying to reduce environmental damage locally, to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and also, maybe, give people pause for thought to consider the way we interact with the world in which we live and the environmental impact we are having in all sorts of ways.

Have a look at this mockumentary…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLgh9h2ePYw

Or rather more seriously, have a look at this page of wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Pacific_Garbage_Patch

or this BBC report by David Shukman

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7314240.stm

Will our campaign hurt local business?

We support the Chamber of Commerce’s ‘Keep It Local’ campaign, and therefore we wanted to investigate whether going plastic bag free would impact on local shops in any way. We know that UK retailers claim that shoppers like getting free plastic bags, and that it will hit their sales if they stop handing them out. However, the evidence from Ireland and France does not support this assertion; two of France’s largest supermarket groups imposed a voluntary ban on free plastic bags and there was no drop-off in sales as a result. Not only that, but research showed that 96% of shoppers supported the ban and the whole country quickly got into the habit of taking re-usable bags shopping with them.

The Irish government reports a drop in the use of plastic bags by 90% since they brought in a tax in 2002.

We are aware that some people say that plastic bags form only a small part of global pollution and do not cause the massive carbon emissions that other goods do and that we should be more concerned about the carbon content of what goes into the bags. We accept that and are campaigning on all sorts of levels. However, we also can see that they are the ‘ultimate symbol of our throwaway culture’ and as such, feel that this is an issue to which people can relate and as we say above, is a good place to start.

Contact us on info@change4Chalfont.org.uk

cow eating plastic bag

Plastic litter

turtle eating plastic bag

3 Comments

  1. Anne Walther

    I totally agree that the plastic bag re-use issue has lost it’s impetus recently. I see too many shoppers in Budgens with plastic bags given out freely by the check-out staff. generally, I think Budgens is a brilliant shop with lots of organic veges etc. and locally sourced produce, (Tim’s Dairy) but too many people leave with their shopping in the green Budgen’s plastic bags. The canvas ones are more capacious and easier to carry containing a heavy load. Can we have another litter-pick on the verges/hedgerows of the lanes…traffic permitting?

  2. Ros

    I noticed that Sainsbury’s in Beaconsfield has signs in their carpark reminding people to bring their reusable bags into the shop. Perhaps we might get Budgens to do the same?

  3. erica

    Ros, this is a really good idea. Would you be prepared to action it?



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