/ UKC Zero Plastic Bags for 2007 Challenge

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
Every year, an estimated 17.5 billion plastic bags are given away by supermarkets. This is equivalent to over 290 bags for every person in the UK.

The average plastic bag has a life span of 20 minutes.


Source - http://www.wasteonline.org.uk

A tax has been introduced in the south of Ireland which overnight reduced the use of plastic bags by 90%. Here is Tony Blair’s response to this -

“I have to say that the line on this is we have no plans to introduce such a tax. You obviously keep all these things under consideration, the question is whether it would work or not, it is important that we look at the evidence from Ireland, but it is also important that we take into account the views of consumers as well. I think there is a lot of work however we are doing with some of the main supermarkets and others in order to try to reduce the packaging and therefore to protect the environment, but we do not at present have any plans to introduce a plastic bag tax.”

So it doesn’t look like the Government are going to do much.

UKC Zero Plastic Bags for 2007 Challenge

In the James-Louwerse household we have managed for the last three months to operate on virtually no new plastic bags and our aim is to reduce this figure to zero for the whole of 2007 (and then beyond once we get used to it). The impact of the James-Louwerse family is only 1450 bags over the whole year (based on the figure at the top of the page) so we thought we might try and see if we could make a more significant impact by extending this challenge to UKClimbing readers.

24,000 registered users all NOT using 290 bags during the year = 6,960,000 bags!

Now that has got to be worth aiming for.

The idea is that you manage to last the whole of 2007 without accepting any plastic bag from any retailer. To do this you need to either carry what you bought, or use bags you already own. If you do get caught out then any bag you accept must be re-used at least five times for it not to count towards your total. Be wary of trying to re-use a normal flimsy supermarket bag five times - most won't last that long. A better idea is to purchase a stronger bag at the checkout.

Problem areas
During the last few months we have noticed that there are some places that you can get caught out. Having some bags in the car permanently is a good idea. Keeping one of those bag storage devices in the kitchen is also a useful way to make sure you re-use.

1) Some shops insist on bags to avoid you getting picked up by the store detective. This is nonsense and you can just use your receipt. If they still insist then leave the bag at the till nearest the door.

2) Supermarket online ordering. A tricky one! They always use far too many bags and it could prove impossible to stop them and still get your order properly. We suggest either un-bag the stuff while the delivery person is there and give them the bags back, or do it on the next delivery. They will probably still get binned though.

3) Fruit and veg plastic bags in greengrocers and supermarkets. Another tricky one. Often you don't actually need a bag. If you do then some GGs supply paper bags. Of course getting yourself organised and re-using the bags is the best idea.

Sign-up for the challenge via this thread and we will keep checking through the year.

Alan
UKC
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

Tesco recycle carrier bags in bins outside their stores.
Buy a strong shopping bag like one of the Ikea ones and use that.
Bob's yer uncle.

Davie
woolsack - on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC: Still trying to get rid of my bag for life, she won't go though!

I try to get the cardboard boxes as they burn nicely afterwards and the stuff doesn't spill out on the roundabouts

Lego - on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

Ha ha - we're doing the same thing!

Keep some tied up in a ball in the bottom of your bag for those impromptu shopping trips...
Norrie Muir - on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:
>
> In the James-Louwerse household we have managed for the last three months to operate on virtually no new plastic bags and our aim is to reduce this figure to zero for the whole of 2007 (and then beyond once we get used to it). The impact of the James-Louwerse family is only 1450 bags over the whole year (based on the figure at the top of the page) so we thought we might try and see if we could make a more significant impact by extending this challenge to UKClimbing readers.
>
I am sorry the Muir/Muir household can't take up that challenge. We have not used a plastic bag for the last 5 years. This is due to one Muir using a string bag for her shopping and me not shopping at all.
Caralynh - on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

The problem with this is that I reuse all carrier bags as bin bags. If I didn't accept carriers, then I'd have to buy bin bags, which would be used only once.
I do have a "bag for life" but after a week or so I've then run out of carriers for bin bags. Any ideas on how to overcome this problem would be gratefully received! Or in this case is it indeed better to use carriers, then reuse for the bins?
toad - on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC: I try to minimize the number of bags I take, but do rely on having a few for clearing up after the dog.
In reply to I am the God of Strathyre:
> Tesco recycle carrier bags in bins outside their stores.

Recycle is not re-use - a very important distinction. It is actually a bit dubious as to whether or not recycling bags provides any environmental benefit. Less rubbish but more carbon used in the recycling process.

Alan
Fume Troll on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC: As you've stated, Ireland introduced a tax of 15 cents / bag in 2002.

You may not know that since then Tescos report an 80% increase in the sales of swing bin liners. SuperQuinn supermarket reports an 84% increase in the sales of disposable nappy bags.

At the same time, retailers have found that substitutes for thin plastic carrier bags occupy more space and Marks & Spencer reports using three times as many lorries to transport alternatives (“bags for life” and paper bags) with a resulting rise in exhaust emissions and traffic nuisance.

If I didn't get bags from Tesco or where-ever, I would end up buying them too, they get used as bin liners, cat litter receptacles and a bunch of other stuff.

That said, I am totally for reducing waste volumes and recycling, just need to recognise the big picture.

Cheers,

FT.
Morgan Woods - on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:
> The average plastic bag has a life span of 20 minutes.
>
>
now that's what i call bio-degradable!
Geoffrey Michaels on 12 Dec 2006 - 81-6-230-124.dyn.gotadsl.co.uk
In reply to Caralynr:
> The problem with this is that I reuse all carrier bags as bin bags.

That is another problem. Not sure how to solve that one. We actually do use bin bags in this house and they are big bought ones to fit the big bin.

Perhaps we should make an exception for any bag used as a bin bag.

Alan
Just a bhoy - on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Norrie Muir:
> (In reply to Alan James - UKC)
> [...]
> This is due to one Muir using a string bag for her shopping and me not shopping at all.

There is always an old school answer to most of the worlds problems.

callum on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC: I wonder what the 'whole life' cost of a plastic bag is compared to a paper bag. Plastic bags are oil based and bad for wildlife (and unsightly as litter), paper bags seem 'greener' but require land for monocultures of trees and they are bulky so will take up a lot more room in landfills, but then again they should break down faster.

Anyone know the definitive answer?
martin riddell - on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Norrie Muir:
> (In reply to Alan James - UKC)
> [...]
This is due to one Muir using a string bag for her shopping and me not shopping at all.

one of your old string vests recycled as a shopping bag ?
Liam M - on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Caralynr: You could just try filling the bin directly. If you use only small bins in the house it will fill up quickly forcing you to empty it frequently and so avoid anything going off and smelling. An occasional quick swill of the bin is all that is needed to keep it clean.
Morgan Woods - on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

> A tax has been introduced in the south of Ireland which overnight reduced the use of plastic bags by 90%. Here is Tony Blair’s response to this -
>
> “I have to say that the line on this is we have no plans to introduce such a tax. You obviously keep all these things under consideration, the question is whether it would work or not, it is important that we look at the evidence from Ireland, but it is also important that we take into account the views of consumers as well. I think there is a lot of work however we are doing with some of the main supermarkets and others in order to try to reduce the packaging and therefore to protect the environment, but we do not at present have any plans to introduce a plastic bag tax.”
>


respect Tony....you actually said that the government is not going to do anything about it....you need to read between the lines a bit but it's pretty much there....no suggestions of a task force, plastic bag "tsar" etc.
Caralynh - on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

Easy challenge then! Just means refusing the silly small bags from places like HMV and Boots, which is easy enough :)
Every bag big enough to fit in the bin (small pedal bin) gets used that way. I do have some proper bin liners in the kitchen, but one roll has lasted over 4yrs so far, I use them that infrequently.
nacnud - on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Caralynr: >If I didn't accept carriers, then I'd have to buy bin bags...

Check what you are throwing away in the first place, most plastics can be recycled, as can glass, paper, tins etc. If your council doesn't run doorstep recycling schemes then most supermarkets have bottle banks etc, take the recycling back next time you shop. Organics can go into a composter, including teabags and eggshells. What's left after that lot isn't going to fill many bags.


All I need to do now is stick to that myself :)
In reply to Fume Troll:
> You may not know that since then Tescos report an 80% increase in the sales of swing bin liners. SuperQuinn supermarket reports an 84% increase in the sales of disposable nappy bags.

Almost certainly still represents a significant reduction in plastic use though.

> At the same time, retailers have found that substitutes for thin plastic carrier bags occupy more space and Marks & Spencer reports using three times as many lorries to transport alternatives (“bags for life” and paper bags) with a resulting rise in exhaust emissions and traffic nuisance.

Except that they will be travelling many fewer times hence overall less emissions. Depends slightly on how often people actually re-use the bags though.

> If I didn't get bags from Tesco or where-ever, I would end up buying them too, they get used as bin liners, cat litter receptacles and a bunch of other stuff.

Again, I bet people get more than enough plastic bags in everyday use to service this sort of usage.

Alan
Nao on 12 Dec 2006 - host217-44-175-193.range217-44.btcentralplus.com
In reply to Alan James - UKC:
It's something I have been thinking about lately, as we have one of those plastic bag recycling bins in our kitchen and it always seems stuffed full.

I've bought some of those non-disposable bags for shopping, but I find I'm too forgetful to remember to bring them all the time. I'm trying, though! And have declined plastic bags as much as I can if I already have a bag that purchases can fit into.

I do take them down to the supermarket occasionally where they have a bag recycling place. Is that any good or is that just as bad as using new ones?

I wouldn't like to promise that I'd not use *any* new plastic bags in 2007 (as I don't think I'd be able to) but I will promise to try and reduce the number, definitely.
Liam M - on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to callum: I don't know about the paper vs plastic debate, but for years my mum has used fairly heavy cotton bags which have lasted years (much more robust than the 'bag for life' type). I believe this was something she picked up of her German mother who insisted that to use such bags had been the norm for so long in Germany that she was somewhat bemused at the number of plastic bags we used.
Norrie Muir - on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Just a bhoy:
> (In reply to Norrie Muir)
>
> There is always an old school answer to most of the worlds problems.

Solving the world's problem created a problem for me. I could not use the poly bags to keep my sleeping bag dry, so I had to buy an Ortlieb Dry Bag.
Nao on 12 Dec 2006 - host217-44-175-193.range217-44.btcentralplus.com
In reply to Liam M:
In Holland where I grew up, the main supermarket charges you for plastic bags. They're the larger type like Sainsbury's bag for life sized ones. It means that a lot of people remember to bring their old carrier bags with them when they go shopping.

Re: paper vs plastic. I much prefer paper bags, but you can't beat plastic for downpours and durability.
Caralynh - on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to nacnud:
> (In reply to Caralynr) >If I didn't accept carriers, then I'd have to buy bin bags...
>
> Check what you are throwing away in the first place, most plastics can be recycled, as can glass, paper, tins etc. If your council doesn't run doorstep recycling schemes then most supermarkets have bottle banks etc, take the recycling back next time you shop. Organics can go into a composter, including teabags and eggshells. What's left after that lot isn't going to fill many bags.
>
>
> All I need to do now is stick to that myself :)

Very commendable. But I have a tiny galley kitchen with no outside space for boxes of tins, plastic etc, etc. If I were to store boxes of such things in the kitchen, I wouldn't be able to move in there! (seriously, it's too small for more than one person at a time in it). So other than bottles, which I can store in old wine carriers in the boot of the car, it's not that practical. Oh, and the council do have a paper recycling scheme, except my box kept getting stolen :(
Liam M - on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Caralynr:
> (In reply to Alan James - UKC)
>Just means refusing the silly small bags from places like HMV and Boots, which is easy enough :)
>

Actually they're the one type I find vaguely useful (in small numbers). I find them perfect for separating small stuff out to make them easier to find and keep dry in rucsacs.

Liam M - on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Nao: It doesn't take much; the netto where I used to live charged between 3 and 10p for different carrier bags, but even this very small amount produced a noticeable difference in the number of people finding other ways of carrying purchases away from the store.
nacnud - on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Nao: One think that I find funny/sad is that in some shops where they tend to always give you a bag with your purchase. I don't want a bag as I've normally got pocket or a bag with me so the cashier is left holding a bag, which they sometimes look strangely at and throw in the bin!

Sigh.
Morgan Woods - on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Liam M:

or you could just use a bin bag.
Fiend - on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

I use all of mine for bin bags (needed for damp/messy cooking rubbish).
ads.ukclimbing.com
Liam M - on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Morgan Woods: That sort of defeats the point though doesn't it; your just replacing one plastic bag with another. I'd prefer to find a way that cuts them out completely.
BelleVedere on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

Already an avid " I Dont need a bag Thanks" pearson.

Was in Boots the other day. They do a lunch deal, where you gat a paper bag and fill it with a bottle of coke, a sandwich and some chocolate. I wasn't sure wether to laugh or cry when i saw the till operators then placing these bags into another plastic bag...
Morgan Woods - on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

how come in europe you need to pay for each of the bags you use....is that money going directly to the tax....or just a portion?

is it driven by the individual country or the EU?

doesn't really seem that hard once you get used to it.
KatieEmily on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

I'm up for it. And surely we all have a suitable rucksack (or three) for doing the shopping with! Durability and much easier to carry than a carrier bag - what more could you ask for?
Burnsie - on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

they are handy for picking up dog shite off the rugby pitches though !
Tyler - on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

> 1) Some shops insist on bags to avoid you getting picked up by the store detective. This is nonsense and you can just use your receipt. If they still insist then leave the bag at the till nearest the door.

Not come across this but I have had lots of incredulous looks from shop assitants. Certainly this is a very minor problem.

> 3) Fruit and veg plastic bags in greengrocers and supermarkets. Another tricky one. Often you don't actually need a bag. If you do then some GGs supply paper bags. Of course getting yourself organised and re-using the bags is the best idea.

Those well know radicals at the WI had a campaign where excess packaging was taken off goods near the checkout and handed back to the supermarket. A co-ordinated campaign like that would be ace. Unfortuately I don't have the courage to do this myself.

The bag for life from Tesco was the best 60p I've sent recently. Unlike plasic bags it prevents the shopping spilling across the floor of my 4x4 :-)
dinkypen - on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

On a slight tangent, I ordered some stuff off nigelsecostore.com last week and was gobsmacked to receive items that were packaged, quite unnecessarily, in plastic. The product itself (the pitrok deodorant) is great, so why does that company spoil the 'eco-friendly' thing by using such un-eco-friendly packaging? Very bizarre.
dinkypen - on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

> Fruit and veg plastic bags in greengrocers and supermarkets.

One of my bug-bears - why do Morrisons see it necessary to package individual capsicums in shrinkwrap plastic stuff? FFS!
CJD - on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Tyler:

this unnecessary packaging thing... the problem seems to be that on the one hand there's people saying 'we don't want as much packaging' and on the other hand there's people saying 'I want my fruit and veg to be triple packed in plastic to make sure no germs or terrorists-injecting-vials-of-ricin have come near it'...

what to do, what to do... which way do the big supermarkets (etc) bow in terms of consumer pressure? neurotic or green?
climbingpixie - on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

It seems like a good idea to charge for bags, it does make you think about how many you really need. I doubt very much whether I'd be able to have a zero bag 2007 since that would require me to remember to take bags with me when I went shopping but I do minimize the number of bags I use by always having a rucksack with me and telling shop staff (in Boots etc) that I don't need a bag when they auto-bag whatever I've just bought.

I also re-use my shopping bags, mostly to keep stuff dry in my rucksack when it's raining and I'm driving, or in my bin. But I don't re-use them at the rate I acquire them so in 2007 I will try to balance my bag usage and take plastic bags with me to the shops.
mwerner on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Liam M:
> (In reply to Nao) It doesn't take much; the netto where I used to live charged between 3 and 10p for different carrier bags, but even this very small amount produced a noticeable difference in the number of people finding other ways of carrying purchases away from the store.

Exactly, a lot of people don't care too much about the environment, but are notorious penny pinchers. Hit em in the pocket and they'll soon find alternatives and re-use bags.

To the kithchen bin argument, it is possible to massively reduce what gets thrown by composting and recycling. It is also possible to buy biodegradable bin bags (not an ideal solution I know, but makes a big difference)

Tyler - on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to CJD:

It's very simple, the latter group are arses and should not be pandered to! I'm not a tree hugger and one of the worst types of shopper but even I can see the stupidity of putting bananas in bags (Fair trade are the worst for this - what's the ethical consumer to do?). It's a recent phnemonena (sp?!) and no one used to complain, as with everything customer education is required, it wll be a slow process but I guess we can all help with this.
ebygomm - on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to climbingpixie: my friend bought me one of these

http://www.onyabags.co.uk/product.htm

Stig - on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to dinkypen: Yeah, but boycott Morrisons. Easy cos their veg is shite anyway.

On the bin bags issue. I use bin bags but then tip the contents into the outside bin. Eventually the liner gets smelly and needs to go, but even re-using for three loads reduces bag use by a 1/3. It really helps to rip up all cardboard packing and I slice plastic packaging up with scissors. Bin needs emptying less=less work.

Gradually cut down plastic bag use to virtually zero over the last few years.
CJD - on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Tyler:

yeah, it's amazing how you get stared at if you don't put all your veg into individual little bags at the supermarket. Most odd.

but the thread is good in terms of reminding me that I used to have a bag in my work bag for groceries etc, and I need to do that again. I like the doleful cow-like stares that the checkout staff give you when you say 'no i don't need a bag', as if it's entirely incomprehensible.
Stig - on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Tyler: That's my bugbear actually. The morons who put their bananas in the little bags. They come naturally packaged in bruise-reducing yellow wrappers. FFS!!!
CJD - on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Stig:

encourage them to peel the banana, leave the skin on the shelf, then put the peeled banana in the plastic bag.
Stig - on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to ebygomm: And these too:
http://www.turtlebags.co.uk/
climbingpixie - on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to ebygomm:

Ooh they look really good. It would be good for me cus I could clip it to my key clip in my rucksack. Only problem would be if it's raining and I've bought stuff that needs to stay dry - they aren't waterproof and stuff gets very very wet when you're on a scooter.
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

I have considered switching from plastic to paper in the shop, but to use bags made from recycled is very expensive and at this stage not realistic.

But if the larger retailers and especilay the supermarkets had presure put on them to use bags made from recylaed paper then possibly the production costs may fall and shops like mine could realisticly use paper.

But plastic bags are only the tip of the iceberg, what about all those polystyrene trays and plastic packaging in the supermarkets?

Thats one reason the Holland house hold DOES NOT use supermarkets, we go to the local butcher, baker and greengrocer. Which more often than not are very competative in price and far superior in quality.

Whats more the local shops are 20 minutes walk or 2 minutes drive where as Morrisons in Harrogate is a 30 mile round trip. How much polution does that cause?

I think people need to look beyond the plastic bags at the check out and start to see the bigger picture.

satori on 12 Dec 2006 - stopover.plus.com
In reply to Stig:
> (In reply to dinkypen) Yeah, but boycott Morrisons. Easy cos their veg is shite anyway.

dinkypen and i get the bulk of our weekly veg through beenies organic veg box scheme.

the packaging consist of a layer of mud and a paper bag usually.
Fidget - on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

I worked for a small company a couple of years ago. Everybody went to Tescos every day, so collected all their carrier bags and recycled them in the green box back at Tesco. Maybe not ideal, but better than throwing them all away (and easier than trying to persuade everybody to reuse).

I've been a bit slack lately, but sometimes take a rucksack instead using a new carrier.
Timmd on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to I am the God of Strathyre:
> (In reply to Alan James - UKC)
>
> Tesco recycle carrier bags in bins outside their stores.
> Buy a strong shopping bag like one of the Ikea ones and use that.
> Bob's yer uncle.
>
> Davie

Please don't go to Tescos or the supermarkets for food,for a 70p glass of milk in thier cafes they only pay the dairy famer 4p,dairy famers are going out of buisiness every week because of the hold the supermarkets hae over the food industry,because many now sell milk at a pound a pint they beat the price down which they were paying to the milk producers to be able to do it. If it carries on we'll end up getting our milk from overseas.

Alan:I'll sign up for the bag challenge.

Cheers
Tim
In reply to Alan James - UKC: Is there a prize because in Finland they charge something like 20cents for every carrier so I just have a load of cloth bags to take to the supermarket plus one big rucsac (teardrop style are easiest to load with shopping). When we get offered plastic bags when buying clothes, shoes, etc. I always take them for bin bags but we are still forever running out of the right shaped bin bags and have to tip the bin into the dustbin saving the bag!

I also re-use the thin little bags for putting your fruit and veg in from the siupermarket, as sandwich bags for taking my lunch to work.
Tiggs on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC: I try and keep carrier bag usage to a minimum and any carrier bags I do use are recycled as bin liners. They're 100% biodegradable well that's what it says on the bag and it saves me buying bin liners and increasing plastics consumption.

So if anyone buys bin liners for the under the sink bin don't, instead reuse your supermarket carrier bags, if they are biodegradable.

We have newspaper, green waste and plastics/tins kerbside recycling. Although the plastic is proscribed as to what can be recycled. Sometimes the only stuff left for the black regular waste bin is packaging. Oh and can someone tell me why window envelopes can't be recycled - if they can't why are they being used?

martin riddell - on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

bought a couple of "bags for life" when last over in France and use these for shopping

tend not to buy readymeals so not much packaging waste so less bin bags required

also compost as much as I can so again cust down on bin bag space

local authority also run decent recycling (glass/cans/paper) so use this to cut down bing bags

bin bags- only one per week, sometimes one for two weeks
Tiggs on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to A Nidderdale boulderer.: The power to change the idiocy of packaging is in the hands of the supermarkets. But they won't act responsibly until they're hurting financially. There was something in the press about people leaving the packaging at the supermarket checkout rather than taking it home. The only problem was that it took forever, caused annoyance to other shoppers and there was no guarantee the supermarket would attempt to recycle what was left behind. I guess if it was done by enough people they might sit up and take notice - but the only way to hit them hard is through the till.
dinkypen - on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Stig:
> (In reply to dinkypen) Yeah, but boycott Morrisons. Easy cos their veg is shite anyway.

Aye, as Satori says, we get our fruit n veg from the Beanies organic box thingy. But unfortunately, I still have to get the T bags, cereal and other dry goods from somewhere :-(
leeford - on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

We still use the big green plastci boxes we got when we used to do the scan & go at the old Safeway. The are great as they fit in your trolley as you go round, fill them up, empty them at the till, then fill them up again.

silhouette - on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to everybody - UKC: OK right, you take a great big Volvo to the out of town supermarket, park it in a car park the size of Wiltshire and refuse to use plastic bags and you're "protecting the environment". You walk, cycle or take the bus with a big rucksack, you put a few items into a minimal plastic bag and you're "destroying the environment." Got that, fine.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Alpnick - on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Alan

Nice one Alan for this getting this thread up an running.

For me the bin bag under the sink is a real stickler of a problem and when someone can solve that problem for me i will happily shun all the bags from the supermarket. The main thing is a don’t want to wash the bin out everyday.

In the Smith/Kopp household
On the whole everything that can get recycled or reused ....does. But some issues that seem to thwart any plans to 100% recycle are the carrier bag/bin bag question, Tetra Pack and plastic packaging (meat trays, plastic bottle with no recycling number, foam under tray for Pizza's etc etc)

Although i do get infuriated by the amount of packaging on stuff, it’s the not being able to do anything with it that annoys me more. Our plastic waste doesn’t get picked up by a doorstep collection so that gets taken down to local super market. However they don’t have recycling for all types of plastic so i never know what to do with my meat tray with a number 4 on the underneath. Do i chuck it in the mesh bags hoping the recycling company will take it away? But does this just add to the their costs, which makes it less attractive to run a recycling company. Or do they think "hey we are getting a load of number 4s perhaps we need a new dump bin”

Any ideas?


Cheers
Nick
nacnud - on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Alpnick: Non recyclable plastic is tricky, does the originator of the package have any responsibility to recycle it at all?
climbingpixie - on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to silhouette:

> OK right, you take a great big Volvo to the out of town supermarket, park it in a car park the size of Wiltshire and refuse to use plastic bags and you're "protecting the environment". You walk, cycle or take the bus with a big rucksack, you put a few items into a minimal plastic bag and you're "destroying the environment." Got that, fine.

Is anyone actually saying that though? In fact there have already been several contributors to this thread who've talked about using local shops rather than going to the supermarket.

LizzieLou on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Alpnick:
Many council kerbside recycling schemes now take Tetrapacks in with the mixed paper.
In reply to Alpnick:
> Although i do get infuriated by the amount of packaging on stuff, it’s the not being able to do anything with it that annoys me more. Our plastic waste doesn’t get picked up by a doorstep collection so that gets taken down to local super market. However they don’t have recycling for all types of plastic so i never know what to do with my meat tray with a number 4 on the underneath. Do i chuck it in the mesh bags hoping the recycling company will take it away?

I did a bit of research into this and it turns out that numbers 1 to 3 are okay for the recycling bins by the supermarket, anything else isn't. There are supposed to be some special places where you can take numbers 4, 5, 6 and PS but I don't think there are very many of them around. These mostly go out with the general waste in our house since driving around to get to the 'special place' isn't really an eco-friendly option.

Also, you should remove tops and labels if possible.

Alan
Tiggs on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Alpnick:
> In reply to Alan
>
>
The main thing is a don’t want to wash the bin out everyday.
>
ditto - its the same with tins and plastics for recycling they have to be rinsed out - yet they're exorting us to save water. I know some will say do it after the washing up but we run the dishwasher once, at night, which research has shown is more water efficient that doing washing up throughout the day.


> In the Smith/Kopp household
, Tetra Pack and plastic packaging (meat trays, plastic bottle with no recycling number, foam under tray for Pizza's etc etc)
>
According to our plastics recycling rules - meat trays are not recyclable something to do with the type of plastic because of its contact with foodstuff, although milk containers (not tetrapack) can be. Those plastic trays for microwave meals can't be recycled either, but the aluminium takeaway trays can. I believe recycled plastic is used to make car oil bottles and suchlike.

We don't have a bottle/glass collection which I think is bizarre as they collect just about everything else.

Our local authority has only just woken up to kerbside recycling previously it had one of the worst records in the country for recycling. Although they have now cut collections down to fortnightly, with two lots of collections one week, two the next. It was introduced as the weather turned cold - it will be interesting to see what happens during a heatwave next summer - I should think they'll be quite a 'stink' kicked up in more ways than one!

Fortunately, our bins have not yet been 'chipped'.

Anyway if your LA has done nothing about kerbside recycling get on to them to do something.
Psychopathic_Barbie - on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC: fantastic idea. plastic bags kill marine life - turtles (which we have a surprising amount of off our shores) mistake them for jelly fish and swallow them, once in their stomachs they stay there and prevent the turtles eating - if a turtle eats enough plastic bags it will starve to death.
ceri - on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC: we have that problem. Our household rubbish is mostly composed of plastic types 4+ (1-3 are recycled) and soya milk cartons which are not card or plastic but somewhere in between and cant be recycled (where i live).
I suppose recycling everything you can is a good start.
Bonobo on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Tiggs:

Bin liners all shapes and sizes and fully 100% biodegradable. Not cheap I suppose but guess it's a trade-off if you don't want to wash out bins too often :)

http://www.thebincompany.com/acatalog/Online_Shop_Food_Waste_Bags_32.html

Re-use bags/bag for life as much as possible. Shop locally if possible (Meat/Eggs etc far better quality) and have milk delivered from local dairy. Recycle everything the council will take (Agree some plastics annoyingly can't be done). Answer to meat tray issue is go to a local butcher.

The biggest advance in reducing waste has been the composter. Got it subsidised by local council, cost me £6 for a 330 litre job see here: http://www.recyclenow.com/home_composting/

I like the idea of unpackaging everything and giving it back to the supermarket on your way out. Although you can't then be assured it will be ethically disposed of I suppose, but it would give you an enourmous sense of smugness

Jim
sutty on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

No recycling facilities of plastics at all here, we pay for garden waste disposal such as grass and plant remains and prunings off bushes, which go straight into the normal rubbish collection for landfill.

One thing nobody seems to take, shredded paper. Ok if you compost a lot but no use in a 12ft square garden.
philo - on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC: in my life time i must have given out over 1 million bags.
Tiggs on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to sutty: Shredded paper is a problem it goes everywhere when its emptied out of the paper recycling box, yet we are advised to shred all personal papers to avoid identity theft - bit of a catch 22. Don't shred and recycle and risk identity theft; shred, recycle and the collectors manage to leave most of it in the road; shred, don't recycle, put in a bag with the normal rubbish.

I think its time for a letter to the council...
LakesWinter on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC: I'm in, now I need to start waliing to tescos for my weekly shop. (I know, I know, it' s tescos and beanies is just down the road.....)
Tiggs on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Bonobo: The bags I reuse are 100% biodegradable. As to using the local butcher - we don't have one now - Tesco's put him out of business :( The nearest butcher is now a good 10 mile return journey away. Our green bin waste is used for composting by the LA.
sutty on 12 Dec 2006
In reply to Tiggs:

ATM my shredded paper goes into a bin bag to start it then other stuff put on top so none flying around, and it packs down.

Supermarket people try to put my one bramley, three bananas, leek, etc into seperate bags but they get stopped. Only thing like that are loose tomatoes, local greengrocer takes stuff from the basket as I put them in, no extra bags, and their own bags are stronger than most so get re-used most.
Fume Troll on 13 Dec 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC: Another perspective:

A typical supermarket carrier bag weighs 8g. 290 of them use 2.3 kg of plastic. In terms of hydrocarbon usage this is about equivalent to 3 litres of petrol/diesel.

I am quite sure we could each save a lot more than 3 litres of fuel in a year. I could probably save that much every day.

Cheers,

FT.
silhouette - on 13 Dec 2006
In reply to climbingpixie:
> (In reply to silhouette)
> Is anyone actually saying that though?

No, I wasn't having a go at people here - more of a general comment.
Jenny C on 13 Dec 2006
Following on from this thread last night I was Christmas shopping and whilst waiting at the till noticed that Boots have signs saying "to reduce waste, please asking if you want a bag".
The sales person then appologised that they didn't have large enough bags to fit my purchase (a large box with carry handle) and offered to tie a small bag to the afforementioned carry handle.
- WTF? needless to say I asked her what was the point and declined the offer.
Psychopathic_Barbie - on 14 Dec 2006
In reply to Tiggs:
> (In reply to sutty) Shredded paper is a problem it goes everywhere when its emptied out of the paper recycling box, yet we are advised to shred all personal papers to avoid identity theft

paper composts ok doesnt it? I would have thought shredded paper would compost quite fast, and as long as you dig it well into your compost heap no ones going to go trawling through that
mobeirn on 15 Dec 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:
Here in Galway in the Republic of Ireland, we as you know have a tax on plastic bags which has gone up recently as their use was creeping up again.
We also have seperated rubbish so the process goes as follows.
Green Bin
-Recyclable material goes into paper bags which you get from the shops.
Brown Bin
-Food waste goes into biodegradeable bags which are made from potato starch
Grey Bin
-Non recyclable waste goes into big plastic bags. This would account for about 5-10% of our waste
In addition we have corpo bring banks for electrical goods or the corpo will pick them up for a small fee if you don't have a car.

Having said that, Galway would be one of the more progressive cities in Ireland with regard to recycling
Tiggs on 15 Dec 2006
In reply to Psychopathic_Barbie: That may be the answer, put the shredded paper into the green compostable waste bin, rather than the paper recycling box.
toad - on 15 Dec 2006
In reply to Tiggs: at work we use shredded paper from the office shredder as animal bedding - not an option for everyone, but a direct reuse, and the paper is ultimately composted and spread back. Mind you, we've only just got a plastics bin
Steve Parker - on 15 Dec 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

Just wanted to say bloody good idea, Alan. I'm signing up. I'm crap at this one - I bought some of those reusable bags from the supermarket ages ago, and almost invariably forget to take the damn things to the shops. I will improve.
00spaw on 16 Dec 2006
In reply to all: here in leeds isnt too bad. we have a black bin for any rubbish and then a green bin which can take;

paper
tins
plastic
etc...execept glass.

there is no collection of glass and the nearest bottle bank is a few miles away. surely glass is easiest to recycle?

the thing which does annoy me though is that at school there are only paper recycling bins in the offices. what is the point in this? why not put them in the 100ish classrooms aswell. o and by the way the recycling bins are about 4l in size and are only emptied once every month, therefore people either put up with the paper all over, or throw it in the bin.



Carolyn - on 21 Dec 2006
In reply to dinkypen:

> One of my bug-bears - why do Morrisons see it necessary to package individual capsicums in shrinkwrap plastic stuff? FFS!

Oh, thank goodness it's not just me who's irritated by that!

At least Sainsbury's just stick a bar code straight on them, and you can stick them in your basket with no extra wrapping....... even if they do try and insist on "helping" you pack at the checkout ("No, I don't need the meat in a separate bag, it's fine as it is, thanks. Nor the milk. Yes, the yoghurts can go straight in my rucsac. That's right, with the washing powder. And no, I don't have a car parking ticket. Guess what, I walked here! Yes, with the baby!") Grrrr.....
The Crow on 22 Dec 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

It will help a little little little bit - so well done I suppose!

However it's a good example of "greenwash" a relatively meaningless gesture that allows us to carry on life as usual with a sop to our conscience. A bit like the scheme to buy a tree to go carbon neutral. Plastic bags are a low volume, low weight item that is pretty insignificant in the scheme of things... a bit like buying a tree to be carbon neutral.

Let's do the math - 6,960,000 bags
at 0.5g each (and I suspect they are lighter)
that's 3480kg or let's round up to 3.5 tonnes
for a landfill that's totally insignificant and for an incinerator likewise...

Now consider that 3480kg across your 24,000 registered users
that's 145g of waste each
now pick up your bin bag and consider its' weight...

Do you still feel virtuous committing to Alan's programme? Gosh you aim low!!!

Why do something meaningful as well?

1. Take one extra trip to a recycling centre this year, that'll save far more energy
2. Or if you're a parent for one week (just one week) use washable nappies and liners rather than disposables you'll free up far more landfill space.
3. Or share one extra car journey this year you'll save more oil and energy than that used making the bags.

They'll all make a much greater difference. Think smart. What can you do that makes the biggest difference? It's not always what campaigners suggest. Plastic bags are great marketing material for the environmental lobby because the numbers sound impressive and it raises profile. The weight/volumes concerned don't justify the effort.

I *hate* greenwash!

WAKE UP!!!!!
The Crow on 22 Dec 2006
In reply to The Crow:

And from Alan's post...

> Be wary of trying to re-use a normal flimsy supermarket bag five times - most won't last that long. A better idea is to purchase a stronger bag at the checkout.

Paying for something doesn't change its' environmental cost it just makes you poorer. If the stronger bag uses 5 times more plastic then what difference have you made? Oh that's right - you've made Tesco richer!

Aaaaaarrrrgggghhhh.

(I'm genuinely sorry to rain on your parade Alan. Really. But please consider my points before zapping).
darren-surrey - on 24 Dec 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

Use your Tesco bags for your bins! I use them to line my kitchen bin and waste paper baskets around the house.
Max factor - on 27 Dec 2006
In reply to darren-surrey:

Small guesture or otherwise, I'll be doing this in 07.
CENSORED - on 27 Dec 2006
In reply to Alan James - UKC: I re-use my tesco bags to collect my dogs faeces. It saves buying special bags and makes my community a nicer place to walk.
CENSORED - on 27 Dec 2006
In reply to The Crow:
> Do you still feel virtuous committing to Alan's programme? Gosh you aim low!!!
That's why I use my bags for dog poo!

> 1. Take one extra trip to a recycling centre this year, that'll save far more energy
I recycle at the same time as I visit the supermarket, just to reduce the energy used in my recycling. I also use "Bulky Bobs" a community recycling project for household items that we no longer need, or the washing machine that died after 8 years of abuse earlier this year. Obviously visits to the supermarket will be substantially reduced once we move and are growing our own!
> 2. Or if you're a parent for one week (just one week) use washable nappies and liners rather than disposables you'll free up far more landfill space.
Already do this, although I'll hold my hands up to using a disposable for mini-cee overnight (it DOES keep her drier) and when out for prolonged periods or away from home overnight. Sorry, but I'm just not THAT good.
> 3. Or share one extra car journey this year you'll save more oil and energy than that used making the bags.
I've cut out an average of 8 car journeys a week by cyclimg to work and back. I'm burning 800 calories of lard per day instead of a couple of litres of diesel. I give a lift to a colleague on the days I use the car, he gets home quicker!!

> They'll all make a much greater difference. Think smart. What can you do that makes the biggest difference? It's not always what campaigners suggest. Plastic bags are great marketing material for the environmental lobby because the numbers sound impressive and it raises profile. The weight/volumes concerned don't justify the effort.
>
> I *hate* greenwash!
>
> WAKE UP!!!!!

However, if it becomes the instigator of awareness, then it no bad thing, after all "The journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step"....

Chris Fryer - on 28 Dec 2006
In reply to Caralynr:
> (In reply to Alan James - UKC)
>
> The problem with this is that I reuse all carrier bags as bin bags. If I didn't accept carriers, then I'd have to buy bin bags, which would be used only once.

If you recycled and composed as much rubbish as you could, you wouldn't need as many bin liners?

I think this is a great idea Alan, don't know why I missed the thread.

Julie Black - on 29 Dec 2006
Great challenge, count me in. I already use very few, but have not quite managed zero carrier bags yet.

Co-op : totally underappreciated stars; their carrier bags have been quick degrading (6 months) for years.

Ultimatly we need to stop being lazy f**ks and start shopping at our local shops instead of big supermarkets, carry a string bag wherever we go, and if we can't re-use then as a last resort at least recycle as much as possible.

As for the mass packaging removal, I've heard of those and would be all up for staging one in my local supermarket. We should agree on a date and have a nationwide packaging removal day. Anyone in?



Dnmn - on 30 Dec 2006
In reply to Julie Black: Mass packaging removal - YES- I'd consider doing it.

But consider buying/making a cotton bag that has much lower associated carbon emissions than any plastic bag. They are available from the shop at CAT (Centre for Alternative Technology) and I think they do online ordering.

I think one place to start would be all those wires and krabs etc that one buys with "instructions" etc on them, along with little bits of pointless plastic to hang them on the shelves. Hand all that crap back to the shop. If they won't take it, buy it somewhere else.

CONSIDER ditching any non-natural fibres from your kit- goretex, nylon etc. Cotton and wool are excellent substitutes for many pieces of kit; my knitted Cashmere RPs are probably about as good as the metal ones but I haven't perfected my woolly friends- they're very flexible but don't grip so well on limestone!!???!?

Hemp ropes? No thanks! Better uses for hemp anyway... like clothing or bags! It's dead hard wearing and, again, can be bought from the web, though you may be put off by the overt political references.

Consider buying less. That's easy eh? No "Upgrade" to the phone, no new camera etc (what are you going to do with all these photo's anyway?). Get your boots resoled don't waste money on a new pair 'cos you think they'll help to stick "that smear". Make do with what you have. Consumption is NOT the path to a happy life or harder climbing.

Ask for unpackaged, unsweetened (fairtrade) food at the climbing wall, cafe etc. My local wall used to be a particularly bad example but they're improving.

And if you're not convinced of the necessity watch...

An Inconvenient Truth
Koyaanisqatsi
Powaqatsi
Barraka

These are not commandments, they are ideas to help reduce impact.
Dnmn - on 30 Dec 2006
In reply to Donald M: Just seen the thread- Good post!

So, the best step, according the politicians, is to draw up a "broader policy". i.e. do nothing. Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant!

So, anyone want to reserve a place on my Ark?
Dnmn - on 30 Dec 2006
In reply to nacnud:
they sometimes look strangely at and throw in the bin!
>
> Sigh.

That's annoying- challenge them and ask them why they've done it?

Attitudes need to change as well as behaviour and policy etc.
Dnmn - on 30 Dec 2006
In reply to CJD:
> (In reply to Tyler)
>
> this unnecessary packaging thing... the problem seems to be that on the one hand there's people saying 'we don't want as much packaging' and on the other hand there's people saying 'I want my fruit and veg to be triple packed in plastic to make sure no germs or terrorists-injecting-vials-of-ricin have come near it'...
>
> what to do, what to do... which way do the big supermarkets (etc) bow in terms of consumer pressure? neurotic or green?

I don't think supermarkets "bow" to pressure all the time. They use advertising to create demand, and change attitudes; it appears to be successful.

The notion that Business is some kind of helpless slave of the whim of the all-powerful consumer is a myth.
Dnmn - on 30 Dec 2006
In reply to The Crow:

Dear Crow,

Perhaps you could let me know which of the above posters have suggested that carrier bag re-cycling is ALL that we need to do to "save the world". I've had a good look though all of them and couldn't find it...
In reply to Alan James - UKC: Right, this is a great idea. I've just bought 3 "bags for life" from Tesco, and I'll leave one in the car for when I forget them.
smceneaneyirl on 02 Jan 2007 - inferno.dhcp-ripwave.irishbroadband.ie
In reply to Nick Smith - UKC: it just doenst work like that belive me cause when you get home from the shops you either forget to put the bag back into the car and have to buy more bags on the next shopping trip or you just get lazy and say f*** it ill just buy another bag or kill your self carrying loose groceries in your hand and opening the car door at the same time
Snax - on 03 Jan 2007
When I was living in France, you had a choice you either brought a reusable bag when you did your shopping, took your own or used a box. everyone did it, except a few bemused brits at check out. I still have the bags I brought and use them for washing etc and shopping here. I try to reuse everybag i take, but normally i don't take one, i just tell the checkout that i'd rather do my bit.

What really bothers me however is packeing, the amount of this stuff used aimeslly really gets my goat! I had an argument a couple of years ago with a sprayway rep, about the amount they use. At the time far more than any other manufacture we stocked. He told me it was what the consumer wanted, as it stopped things being cressed before they got to the shelf. I told him that I refused to sell there products on the amount of packadgeing they used, and i maintened this approch until i left the job, a year later. If a custormer asked after their products, i told them flat where I thought it came in what ever it was they were after, but my reasons for not reccomending it.

I doub't sparyway have changed their policys on my voice alone, but If we all took this approch, they and everyone else soon would.
Tiggs on 04 Jan 2007
In reply to Chris Fryer:
> (In reply to Caralynr)
> [...]
>
> If you recycled and composed as much rubbish as you could, you wouldn't need as many bin liners?
>
That's exactly what's happening. The majority of rubbish I can't recycle doesn't need a bin liner as it mainly plastic packaging and it goes straight into the black bin. That bin is now much lighter and emptier. :o) With the reduced need for bin liners using reusable shopping bags is a much, much better option.
In reply to Tiggs: Likewise. Now that I recycle my glass, plastics & paper, the black rubbish bin hardly gets anything at all in it - just a bit of food waste really. And if I had a garden I guess I could compost that.
In reply to Nick Smith - UKC:
> - just a bit of food waste really. And if I had a garden I guess I could compost that.

Only your uncooked food waste. If you compost your cooked food waste then you will get rats!

Alan
peterbayliss on 09 Jan 2007
It is quite easy to reduce plastic bag usage to a low level but a bit harder to use none.
What I do is ride to the shops or supermarket on my bike carrying a rucksac. No need for any bags and its good for you.
I realise it would be harder to do family weekly shop this way but as an individual I can do my shopping for a few days in one trip.
Any bags you do get keep and use them again for something else. If you start to build up a lot of bags it will put you off picking up any more as you don't want them taking up any more space.
If every one made an effort to reduce the number of plastic bags used it would make a difference.
toad - on 12 Jan 2007
In reply to Alan James - UKC:
> (In reply to Nick Smith - UKC)
> [...]
>
> Only your uncooked food waste. If you compost your cooked food waste then you will get rats!
>
>There is no guarantee you won't see rats anyway,an uncooked carrot is still quite attractive to them. I just put a trap in the couple of times they've turned up in mine and that's dealt with the problem - important thing is not to let them get established

You can get closed top wormeries for cooked food, which have a tap on the bottom to give you a home made baby - bio type product.
Clint86 - on 12 Jan 2007
In reply to Alan James - UKC: Excellant post, only just seen it. We do our best as well.
gingerkate - on 26 Jan 2007
In reply to Alan James - UKC:
Excellent post Alan, only just seen it.

Idea for use for bags if you do get caught out: keep in jacket pockets for impromptu litter pick ups. One person with three or four bags at a grottified beauty spot can make a huge difference.
Fidget - on 13 Feb 2007
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

I'm doing so crap at this. I don't throw any bags away, and recycle them as much as poss, but I always forget to take them with me to shops. If I'm not buying much I just carry it, but I've still accepted way more bags than I should.
KatieEmily on 09 Mar 2007
In reply to cider nut:

I still haven't used a single plastic bag yet - over 2 months! Woo hoooo! Just thought I'd give myself a pat on the back, especially as it's Friday afternoon and it's been a tough week. Got to feel goood about something. How's everyone else doing?
In reply to KatieEmily:

I am doing fine as well. It is actually pretty easy once you get going, although I did have a dodgy moment when stopping off to do a spot of shopping the other day and realising I didn't have a single bag anywhere. It was quite a juggling act getting 10 small items back home without one.

Also, just got one of these from Rock and Run - http://www.rockrun.com/shop/prod.html?d=17&t=300&p=3254 - which is by far the best lightweight shopping bag I have come across. (You can use it for climbing to).

Alan
ICE on 09 Mar 2007
In reply to Alan James - UKC: Should it always be upto the government to do something?, I always refuse a plastic bag when shopping, its funny though how some people cannot handle it, the person in line behind me has to announce in a loud voice, 'yes I'll have a carrier bag' with a smirk on their face.
Katie Weston on 09 Mar 2007
In reply to Alan James - UKC:
Since Tescos have introduces their green clubcard points for reusing carriers I see so many more people re-using bags.
I'm not quite as wonderful as you guys, now and again I do use a new carrier, but I am making an effort to find uses for the ones I do take!
LakesWinter on 09 Mar 2007
In reply to Alan James - UKC:

I've taken about 5 or 6 bags so far this year, I must try harder! But this is down from the 50 or so it would have been by now in previous years
John Lisle - on 09 Mar 2007
In reply to KatieEmily:

I have only just seen this thread - missed it in the pre-Christmas haze.

Well done to you for being the first person (after over 20 replies - a bit depressing) to really take it in the spirit it was intended and try to make a difference.

Alan, there are criticisms to be made of every small step in the right direction, trying counts for a lot.

I am starting *now*.

J

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.