International Plastic Bag Free Day 12th September 2009

Filed in Blog by on September 7, 2009 33 Comments
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Debris floating in the water from Rebecca Hoskin's 'Message in the waves'

Debris floating in the water from Rebecca Hoskin's 'Message in the waves'

Welcome to the first day of National zero waste week and What a celebration!

On the final day of National zero waste week, it’s International Plastic Bag Free Day!

What Timing! What perfection!

The first ever event takes place on 12th September 2009 and was set up by a group of eco pioneers who I found through the Marine Conservation Society. The group have a ‘Plastic bag free‘ forum on Google.

The Plastic Bag Free forum is a group of individuals and communities who are working to make their local areas Plastic Bag Free, so that eventually we can make the UK a plastic bag free country.

But if rallying your community isn’t your thing, don’t worry! Just give up plastic carrier bags yourself and your actions will spread like the ripples in a pond.
If you want to promote International Plastic Bag Free day in your town, you’ll find everything you need such as posters, a press release and a list of plastic bag free towns in the UK.

Modbury in Devon was the first town in the country to say no to carrier bags on May 1st 2007 thanks to the incredible work and insight of Rebecca Hoskins

Rebecca encountered the destruction caused by carrier bag pollution first hand while Message in the Waves for the BBC.  The sight of the sea filled with plastic and dying sea animals inspired her to persuade the town traders from her hometown of Modbury to stop using carrier bags and now the town are looking at other ways in which they can reduce their use of plastic.

She has written an excellent pocket  book called ‘Ban the plastic bag‘ which tells you everything you need to know about developing a Community Action Plan for making your own town carrier bag free.

I have a copy of this great little book which I’m going to give away. Just leave a comment below and I’ll use a random generator to pick a lucky winner on International Plastic Bag Free day!


About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (33)

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  1. What a great finale to end what will be an amazing week. Rebecca Hoskins and Modbury have had a huge influence around the UK. In my neck of the woods,Clare, in Suffolk, went plastic bag free during our local Zero Waste Week last year, which was great news. Aylsham in Norfolk did too and is still going strong. I love this cartoon which was published earlier this year in the Eastern Daily Press

  2. John Costigane says:

    Hi Mrs Green,

    It is great to see so many supporting sites for the National Week. I have started the personal pledge, avoiding plastic bottles, and some adjustment will help the milk-free challenge. Glass bottled fruit juice can be a big help. With the UK apple season starting, apple juice would be a good choice. The packaging process there uses glass with a metal top which avoid plastic, though I have still to see one on sale to check.

    The plastic bag is becoming less popular, with even the supermarkets joining-in. A recent Tesco ad showed 4-5 reusable bags holding a day’s shopping. That was a first from them.

  3. John Mowbray says:

    Supermarkets should charge 10p for each plastic bage the issue, problem would be solved very quickly.

  4. Mjj says:

    All supermarkets and small shops should charge for bags — we would soon all remember to take a reusable bag with us then.
    Make shopping bags a fashion statement to encourage more use.

  5. emma says:

    Supermarkets should charge 10p for each plastic bage the issue, problem would be solved very quickly.

  6. FionaLynne Edwards says:

    This is such a good idea. I hope National Week is the success it deserves to be. Plastic bags should be unobtainable from supermarkets – why don’t we “go American” and do paper ones instead?

  7. Raihan Talukdar says:

    great idea

  8. Ruth Tesdale says:

    In the 70’s or 80’s I remember there was a plastic bag free day and I was determined to take part but had a big battle in lots of shops having to see the manager in one case before being allowed to leave without my purchase in a plastic bag. I am so pleased that now things have moved on but just wish it could have been a lot sooner.

  9. JULIE PANNELL says:


  10. linda wiles says:

    Whilst shops still have them, people will use them, big problem

  11. HAZEL g says:


  12. Amy Skinner says:

    What a great idea. Why don’t more people take their own bags. Even if I forget on my weekly shop I’d rather have my grapes escaping round the boot than take another plastic bag.

  13. Sarah T says:

    I have been taking my own reusable bags with me for about a year now, if I ever forget them I get really annoyed with myself and end up trying to stuff everything in my handbag so as not to use a plastic bag! Supermarkets should definitely stop making them so readily available and free.

  14. Stephanie G says:

    Great idea.

    I have been taking bags with me when I’m going shopping for years but now I’m also trying to keep a bag in my hand bag at all times in case I buy something unexpectedly.

  15. peter clist says:

    I now always take my own bags- at tesco you receive club card points for using your own bags-

  16. Peter Arnold says:

    Three days and counting!

  17. Solange says:

    I always use my “I’m Not A Plastic Bag” when shopping

  18. sarah says:

    i tkae my own bags, but still get bugged that so much stuff (especially food) comes with it’s own plastic wrapper – would be great if it could be left behind at the shop!

  19. Caroline McKenzie says:

    Well done to those who don’t use plastic bags and it’s good to see more and more people take their own to the shops but something must be done to get rid of the one use ones from supermarkets and market stalls.

  20. Phil D says:

    Now, I’m one of the last to advocate ‘do as the Americans do’ but in the terms of shopping, don’t they have paper grocery bags that they use. A small charge could be levied for them, to try and persuade shoppers to bring their own, but for the people who don’t, it would at least be a re-cycleable bag.

  21. Poppy says:

    @Phil D: From what I recall seeing on TV though Phil, it was one large paper bag carried in the arms to the huge car park and the *huge station wagon*. It never seemed to rain either 😉 I don’t think they would work here.

  22. Kristian Snooks says:

    I try to buy loose items when shopping, But, Like many posters some items are packaged in wrapper over wrapper. There are good recycling facilities near me but it annoys me to have to recycle lots of the useless packaging as soon as i arrive home from shopping – On a time, Environmental & monetary level in that I’ve just paid the shops for what is essentially now rubbish!

  23. Reggie says:

    We have a campaign in East Dulwich South London and lots of things are planned for the Lordship Lane our high street
    Sly and Reggie will be playing the plastic bag song and other campaign songs from the back of their morris pickup.


    I am lucky that I have a local shop that we use for all our shopping needs. I take my basket and collect my eggs, meat, fruit & veg and bread etc which is not packaged in plastic to the hilt like supermarket products are. Supermarkets should just stop supplying plastic bags, as simple as that. If you really wanted your shopping you would remember to bring your bags with you.

  25. Lisa Beaumont says:

    Excellent idea, i always take my own bag to the shop

  26. Andrew Hindley says:

    Why do shops and supermarkets use plastic bags?

    Why can’t supermarkets switch to biodegradeable shopping bags they are available!

  27. John Costigane says:

    @Andrew Hindley: Biodegradable is not as good as you would think due to the industrial (high temperature) composting required. Home composting is not suitable. Fabric bags are the best choice since they are infinitely reusable, and therefore Zero Waste.

  28. Gilla says:

    I’m always surprised at the number of people I see still using supermarket plastic bags.

    Reusable ones are so much sturdier!

  29. Karina Braekkan says:

    A shopping discount or extra club card points/rewards scheme for reusing would help encourage people to not take new plastic bags.

  30. LJayne says:

    Both Sainsburys and Tesco here in the UK give extra points if you use your own bags. Not many admittedly, they could give more as an incentive.

  31. janet says:

    In theory they give you points, but most of the staff do not, even when you say you have got a bag, they seem to forget, and don’t give you points. Sainsbury some years back gave you a penny if you reused a bag, You only sometimes got it then, So a point per bag in Sainsbury was a step back, as one point is only worth 1/2 a pence .

  32. Janine says:

    I find reusable bags get a bit addictive! I find myself having to stop myself buying more when I see them!

    Would love to get my town plastic bag free; what a great idea…

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