Time to Ban Plastic Bags

Vinod, from Bright News in Buckingham Road, gets through about 400 plastic bags a week that he gives away to customers. He’s often astounded when people ask for a plastic bag to carry just a single plastic covered loaf of bread. The European Commission is looking into the issue of plastic waste. Possible measures tabled include landfill bans, taxes and pay-as-you-throw recycling schemes.

Shoppers are currently charged for plastic bags in Wales and Ireland, where usage has dropped by up to 96%. Scotland is implementing plans to charge for bags and it’s time that England followed suit. It’s possible to change people’s habits and if people can get passionate about saving one tree, how about demonstrating the same level of passion to save an entire planet from the curse of plastic waste? Despite a Government promise to tackle the issue, 330 million extra bags were handed out in England in 2011. The bags we take away from our local shops contribute to these numbers. Many of them are used only for minutes but may harm the countryside, waterways and wildlife for generations.

TrashedA new docu-feature film, TRASHED, produced and directed by British film-maker Candida Brady, features Jeremy Irons who sets out to discover the extent and effects of the global waste problem, as he travels around the world to beautiful destinations tainted by pollution. The film charts a meticulous, brave investigative journey that takes Irons (and us) from scepticism to sorrow and from horror to hope. Each year, the world throws away 58 billion disposable cups, billions of plastic bags, 200 billion litres of water bottles, billions of tons of household waste, toxic waste and e-waste. We buy it, we bury it, we burn it and then we ignore it. Does anyone think about what happens to all the trash we produce? We keep making things that do not break down. With Jeremy Irons as our guide, we discover what happens to the billion or so tons of waste that goes unaccounted for each year. On a boat in the North Pacific he faces the reality of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and the effect of plastic waste on marine life.

I know my answer the next time I am asked “Would you like a bag?”

Colette Wilson

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