As a leading Recruitment Agency with 7 branches across the Midlands and Southwest, employing around 100 people across our group, we take our corporate social responsibility seriously.  Plastic bags are the bane of our lives – they’re everywhere – especially during the lunchtime rush!  We’ve recently said ‘enough’s enough’ in our offices and provided reusable Tote Bags on hooks around exits so our people can’t miss them as they pop out for their lunch; it’s as much about changing mindsets as it is providing physical alternatives to plastic bags. 

So, on International Plastic Bag Free Day, we are continuing to invest in this mindset change by raising awareness of a future without plastic bags and the availability of environmentally friendly alternatives to single-use bags. 

Since the introduction of the minimum charge of 5p for plastic carrier bags, they are no longer thrown around like confetti at the tills with a reduction in usage by over 95%, according to DEFRA.  This successful environmental awareness charge has now doubled to 10p and extended to ALL retailers, having previously only applied to large retailers and supermarkets.  The Government is certainly stepping up its war on plastic pollution!  

DEFRA anticipate that extending this charge to all retailers will decrease usage by 70-80% across SMEs.  This is all great news and seemingly we are not always financially motivated when it comes to reducing our plastic bag use, as for most of us it’s about doing ‘our bit’ for the environment.  

Whilst reusable plastic bags are generally stronger and heavier, it does take more resources to manufacture them, resulting in a larger environmental footprint.  OK, so you can reuse them hundreds of times (if you remember to) and they do have a positive environmental impact but in the very long run.  Generally, reusable/material Tote Bags work so much better. 

We love the fact that they are practical, versatile and also sustainable – by rejecting plastic bags completely, we make little behavioural step changes that can make a real, meaningful difference.  

If you need more evidence of the malevolency of plastic bags, here are 5 extremely compelling reasons why to move from the ‘Dark Side’. 

5 Reasons to stop using plastic bags: 

  1. Plastic bags are made from non-renewable resources and contribute to climate change 

Most plastic bags are made of polyethene, a substance that is derived from crude oil refining and natural gas processing. Oil and natural gas are non-renewable fossil fuel-based resources that release greenhouse gases during their extraction and production, contributing to global climate change. 

  1. Plastic bags never completely break down 

Each plastic bag is typically used for a total of 12 minutes before being disposed. However, the plastic bag never completely degrades in natural environments. Instead, tiny pieces break off and end up in the soil, oceans, and stomachs of wildlife. 

  1. Plastic bags kill wildlife and marine life 

Birds, turtles and other marine life mistake plastic bags for food, which leads suffocation.  Recently, a dead whale washed ashore with its stomach filled with 13 pounds of plastic waste. 

According to United Nations figures, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the world’s oceans than fish unless people stop using plastic items like plastic bags and bottles. 

  1. Plastic bags are harmful to human health 

You might not realise it, but the grocery shop plastic bag could possibly end up in your food and water. Plastic fragments have been discovered in human faeces, which is unsurprising given that humans eat seafood and drink tap water! 

  1. Plastic bags are not easy to recycle 

Although plastic bags can be broken down and moulded into new items, the necessary equipment and costs are super expensive. Not to mention the fact that the plastic bags must be spotless to be used; the majority certainly aren’t!  Therefore, bags are filling up landfills and get picked up by the wind and blown away to other locations due to their relative lightweight. The only way to solve the problem is to stop using them completely. 

Plastic bags are a small fraction of the overall plastic pollution problem. There are still many single-use plastics such as straws and water bottles to eliminate, but we must start somewhere. 

Come on everyone – make the right choices today! 

Remember, “If you can’t reuse it, refuse it!” 

Sources: 

DEFRA – https://deframedia.blog.gov.uk/2021/05/21/war-on-plastic-pollution-stepped-up-with-expanded-plastic-bag-charge/ 

PHOTOGRAPHY – Prudence Bond

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