National zero waste week – reducing plastic carrier bags

Filed in Blog by on September 3, 2009 8 Comments
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Little Miss Green waiting to send you your ReSACKel bag to reduce your disposable carrier bag use

Little Miss Green waiting to send you your ReSACKel bag to reduce your disposable carrier bag use

Not long to go before National zero waste week is upon us!

Next week is your chance to reduce your household waste. It can be as simple or complex as you like, but for one week we ask you to think about how you can prevent items from your household ending up in landfill.

Today we’re going to focus on our old favourite; the plastic carrier bag.

Saying no to disposable carrier bags is one of the simplest steps you can take towards reducing waste.

It’s the first thing we did and look where we ended up a year later!

53% of plastic disposable carrier bags are issued by supemarkets. For something that is used for such a short period of time, they can cause a lot of problems afterwards.

Plastic carrier bags can pose a threat to wildlife, cause unsightly litter, hang around in the landfill for hundreds of years and have been responsible for flooding when they have become stuck in drains and waterways:


Every year in the UK, 17½ billion disposable plastic carrier bags are given out by supermarkets yet only 1 in 200 is recycled.

If you think you could support National zero waste week by saying No to plastic carrier bags here are some ideas for what you could do instead:

  • Reuse the stash of carrier bags you already have in your home. Some supermarkets even give you loyalty points for every bag of your own you use.
  • Get hold of a reusable shopping bag. You can buy them in a variety of materials; try to select a biodegradable material such as cotton or jute or choose a recycled one to close the loop.
  • Keep a couple of cardboard boxes in the car and pack your shopping straight from the trolley into the boxes
  • Get hold of a shopping trolley. No longer for grannies, these are funky and stylish!
  • Support our site by buying one of our Resackel shopping bags. Made from recycled rice sacks, they are strong, durable and waterproof.

Sharon, from Frustrated Housewife is all set to say No to carrier bags next week; are you ready to join her?


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 (8)

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  1. It is very rare now for me to have to take a plastic bag anywhere as i have some small cotton cloth bags which fit into my purse, (bought from my veg box supplier).

    In fact I have that many reusable bags that I would have to do a mega mega shop to be able to fill them all.

    I gave one of the resackel bags as part of my friends birthday pressie(used it as the gift bag); she was absolutely delighted.

  2. Sarah says:

    I got a shopping trolley last year and love it. I was already using cloth bags but they still had to be carried and with my health issues at the time it just wasn’t feasible as I couldn’t carry enough shopping. The trolley means I can stack it up and pull it along and get most of our shopping in local shops or at the local market.

    Our most recent achievement is to get the local chippy to use our own cloth bags on the rare occasions we have fish and chips. In fact I overheard them asking other customers “Do you have a bag?” so i think we may have started something!

  3. John Costigane says:

    Hi Mrs Green,

    Plastic bags are on the decline to very close to Zero, eventually. I use 1 per year, or longer, for my 5 year binbag challenge. They can easily hold a year’s waste in a convenient location. Otherwise, I find them without use.

    There are chemical industry type who still swear by them, a serious form of delusion.

  4. Jane says:

    I have to say that I’ve been disappointed recently to notice that where, 6 months ago, people were complaining about having to pay for bags at places like M&S, now they just take it for granted that they pay and aren’t bothered. As well as that I’ve noticed that the staff quite happily give people 2 or 3 of the smaller, free bags instead of them having to buy a large one! It’s defeating the object of the exercise completely.

    On a more refreshing note, a few weeks ago when I was in our local Asda home, no doubt buying more glue for making models out of old boxes, the till assistant commented on how neat my Onya bag was and that i had 2 of them in my handbag (which is small). She asked for the details. I thought she was just making conversation, but when I was back in a few days ago, she said she’d bought some, including the back pack! I was extremely impressed. I’ve also noticed that instead of asking if people need a bag, she asks them if they can fit their purchase in an existing bag! Good for her.

  5. Condo Blues says:

    Almost all of my reusable shopping bags I got for free at an event of some sort. The bags have advertising on the side, but I don’t mind given the price. Also, it means when I hear someone say that they’d love to use a reusable shopping but don’t have one because of the price, I can give them one of mine.

  6. Mrs Green says:

    @maisie dalziel: Hi Maisie; we’re similar’; we seem to have gathered loads of reusable bags; some better than others.
    Glad your friend liked her ReSACKel bag 🙂

    @Sarah: Hi Sarah; it sounds like the shopping trolley is really beneficial for you. And go you showing the takeaway folk how to reduce their plastic bag use!

    @John Costigane: Hi John, I have a couple of carrier bags in the house for emergency use – by that I mean things that come out of the cat onto the floor. I am yet to be able to deal with it in any other way than clearing up the contents with kitchen towel and tying it in a carrier bag. Thankfully I’ve not had to deal with that excitement this year 😉

    @Jane: Hi Jane, lovely to see you again – how are you and how are things on EcoLocal? Your observations in M&S are very depressing 🙁
    Your Asda story is more inspiring and it just goes to show that we can all be part of the solution – brilliant; I’m so glad she took your advise.

    @Condo Blues: Hiya 🙂 GOod to see you again. How great to gather together all those freebies; I’ve only had one free one! Giving them away to people is a great way to gently nudge them towards a plastic bag free life 😉

  7. Poppy says:

    @Mrs Green:

    I have something to deal with anything that comes out of the cat ………. it’s called ………… the Dog! Isn’t nature wonderful 😉

  8. Mrs Green says:

    @Poppy: Ah I love how nature recycles everything Poppy. I’ve often thought another dog would be useful. But he used to hoover up the sheep poo in the field as well. Ewwww.

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