The first eco friendly change that I was consciously aware of making happened away back in 2014 when Scotland introduced a mandatory charge for plastic carrier bags.
This was a nationwide bid to reduce the amount of plastic carrier bags ending up on streets and in landfills, and to generally improve the environment. Charges for bags in Scotland range from 5p to 20p depending on, the shop your buying them in and wither or not your buying a single use bag, or what they call a bag for life. Which I my humble opinion is not as the name would suggest as they rip as easily as the single use ones. The only difference with the bag for life bags is that the shop should replace them for free if they break.
Now since 2014 the use of plastic bags as dropped significantly. As people have been more willing to pay a £1 for a reusable cloth bag than they are to pay 5p for one that lets face it is probably going to break before you make it out the shop. I am also convinced that the strength of the plastic bags has decreased since the new charge came into play, though that may just be a conspiracy theory on my part, who knows.
I have seen people walking out with their weekly shop in their arms rather than pay 5p for a bag, since the mandatory charge came in. (What can I say we’re scots are we meant to be tight fisted? hehe.) Now if you anything like my poor mother, she gets to the shops, gets out the car and is half way round Morrisons before she’s relised she left her nice, eco friendly, re usable bags in the car. Now she just repacks her stuff in her trolley and wheels it back to the boot sans plastic bag and packs it at the boot (All the while cursing her forgetfulness). I’ve seen others, as mentioned carry the items in their hands (sometimes to comical proportions) others buy an other eco bag, and I have actually seen people put stuff back, go out to the car and come back in, just for the sake of using the bag they spent a pound on. And all that was just last week!
I think over the last two years it’s been a gradual change but for the most part now you see folk with their foldaway bags clipped to their handbags and in their pockets and I always smile to myself when I do see people going to any means possible to avoid buying a plastic bag if they do happen to forget their reusable ones, even if it’s simply because they refuse to spend 5p on a bag, I like to think that those people are still refusing on a subconscious level because they care about our planet.
In saying all that I found that switching from plastic bags to reusable one was a fairly simple task and one that I adapted to quite quickly. I usually have a foldaway bag of some description (Usually more than one these days) in my handbag. and am never caught short, in fact I have stopped friends and family from buying plastic bags just buying pulling one out of my handbag when I’ve been standing next to them. Admittedly they roll their eyes at me half the time but still, I’m being eco friendly, helpful and frugal when doing so, so I shall continue to do so.
All in all I think that the Bag charge as changed the way that the UK, particularly Scotland shops for the better, these days you have all manor of reusable bags and shops are even now selling ones with their shop name and logos on them. I am unsure of how the charge works in England, as a recent trip to Newcastle showed me, when a till girl in the primark store gave me a funny look as I automatically pulled out a canvas bag to put my pruchases in after she had shook open a store carrier bag, without asking if I wanted one (which is now comman place in Scotland, that I felt oddly deprived when I wasn’t asked).
So there you have it my first eco-friendly change and at the time I’m fairly sure I didn’t do it for eco friendly reasons more for tight fisted ones but either way I’m glad I did because now grabbing a reusable bag on the way out the door is as much a part of my pocket pat down as checking for my keys and phone, and I don’t need to worry about making another change in my life, now that I am becoming more eco conscious, and I feel that I’ve already been doing a great deal to help the environment with one small change to my daily living habits. Thank you Government mandated bag charge!