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environment reduce reuse

A scatterbrained woman’s thoughts on plastic bags

CREDIT: REUTERS/PETR JOSEK
CREDIT: REUTERS/PETR JOSEK

Just after Christmas I went up to Glasgow to stay with family and went out sales shopping. I was a little surprised when, in Marks and Spencer, I was asked if I wanted a carrier bag for my clothing purchase, and even more surprised when I was charged 5p for it. Surprised, but not cross, quite pleased really.

When I got back to my parents-in-law, I mentioned it to them, and had to smile when both my mother- and grandmother-in-law produced small reusable bags from their handbags. I was impressed. The 5p charge was obviously working.

It made me think. I have the best intentions not to get carrier bags, I have a huge collection of reusable shopping bags. I also have a mountain of single use plastic bags from all the times I have forgotten to take my reusable bags.

The Government estimates that 8 billion carrier bags are given out in supermarkets each year. That equates to 130 per person per year. That’s 57000 tonnes of carrier bags ending up in landfill every year*. Yikes!

In October of this year England will see the introduction of a 5p charge for carrier bags at the supermarket, to bring it in line with the other countries in the UK who already charge this.  The introduction of the charge in Wales resulted in a 79% reduction in carrier bag usage.

My biggest problem is remembering to take bags with me.  If I have a carrier bag with me, I will happily use, and willingly give plastic bags back to retailers in favour of using a bag I already have. Hopefully, a 5p charge will encourage me to make sure I always have bags with me – if not the new legislation could get expensive!

What about you? Do you have any tips on plastic bag reusage for a scatterbrained mum?

*Source – https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/reducing-and-managing-waste/supporting-pages/charging-for-single-use-plastic-carrier-bags

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reduce

Natural Beauty

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The world of cosmetics, full of controversy, always a source of debate. It is true that a lot of commercially available cosmetic products are bad for the environment; a friend commented today that most exfoliants contain micro particles of plastic that end up in waterways, some cosmetics are still tested on animals, contain potentially harmful chemicals or are just packaged badly, using huge amounts of resources just to look good (see here for a case in point). But, does that mean that in order to be “green” we have to sacrifice looking good, treating our bodies, our little bit of pampering?

In an ideal world, maybe, we could all be content with washing with unpackaged soap, moisturising with olive oil and washing our hair with a rinse of vinegar or bicarbonate of soda. I know many people who do all those things. For the rest of us, though its a case of finding the middle ground. If I wash with soap I feel like my skin has been tucked behind my ears, the changes in temperatures at this time of year leave my skin dry and uncomfortable, I like to wallow in a scented bath, scrub myself to within an inch of my life and slather myself in sweet smelling moisturiser. It makes me feel good, it helps me unwind and it makes my skin healthier.

So what can we do? Well for a start, think about which products you really need to use and keep it to a minimum.

Look at the ingredients – are they natural, sustainable ingredients, for example it is possible to get exfoliators with no plastic in, in recyclable tins such as this one here

Can you make it yourself? See here for how to make your own bathsalts! If you search the internet you will be amazed at how many products you can make cheaply and easily in your own kitchen!

What sort of packaging is it in? Do you really need one in a plastic bottle, in a plasticated cardboard box inside plastic film? Or is there an alternative in sustainable packaging? Lush Cosmetics, Neals Yard Organics and Wikaniko are all companies that use minimal packaging in their toiletries.

It’s mostly common sense – just think, is this product costing the earth?