Great news – Europe wages a war against plastic bags


Great news – Europe wages a war against plastic bags

Sorry, again it is in French… Next time I’ll translate the article…

Great initiative from the European Union, and if this law is passed (making us pay 50p per plastic bag), as I think it should, it would be so expensive to purchase plastic bags in supermarket that we would all make the effort to go to the supermarket with our shopping bags, or at least re-use the plastic bags!!

Plastic bags are a real plague of our commercial world. There is not one place on earth where you don’t find some littering the countryside. I don’t think that it is difficult to carry them with us. A folded carrier bag takes no space. We wouldn’t dream of going out without carrying our  wallets or handbags, so adding a carrier bag is just something which has to become automatic. One this is done, let’s tackle the disgusting rubbish left by customers of fast food and coffee shops.

I find it so shortsighted how a lot of people regard the world as their living environment but don’t treat it as such. Does anyone spit their chewing-gum on the floor of their living room? Or throw their rubbish in their bath just before taking a bath? Or empty their plate on their bed just before going to bed? So why do we do it outside? 

We have to change the view that most people have of the world as an environment which will always deal with what is thrown at it. I believe that this is true for everything that is nature made, but not man-made. We manufacture chemicals and composite which are ever more resistant to degradation, and although they will probably eventually biodegrade, it might take centuries for a bag of plastic or a chewing-gum to do so. 

Laws are short term answers to protect the environment, but for a sustainable change, education of all strata of the population is probably the answer. I believe that most people are ignorant and do not harm the environment in a malign way. They are on the other hand, easily convinced if the steps to be taken are easy to take and the improvements visible. Why couldn’t you go with your mug to a Starbucks, McDonalds or else to reduce litter?

What do you think of playing a little game? Could everyone of us in our group think of one thing that could easily be done (and if your idea is taken, think of another one) and which would have the potential to substantially reduce garbage. Mine is to take my mug to my local coffee place tomorrow…



3 Responses to “Great news – Europe wages a war against plastic bags”

  1. peterezekiel Says:

    I agree that this is an excellent move, thanks for sharing this article. Steps to eliminate wasteful and environmentally damaging items like plastic bags should be welcomed.

    It does leave me wonder though, have our consumer driven societies have had an effect on our ability to think about issues like protecting our environment in the long term. For example, most people would agree that plastic bags are a “bad thing” and we can do without so many of them. So why haven’t we all simply stopped using them? Does the fact that we can’t see the negative effects elsewhere in our environment mean we don’t treat it as a real risk? Would we rather buy the “stuff” and not think about the bigger picture?

    It seems a real shame that the only way to encourage people to stop using plastic bags is to make them more expensive than the alternative, by attaching a cost. Or in the more extreme example, change the law to make possession of plastic bags outright illegal, as Rwanda did in 2008. Here’s a short video on the impact of Rwanda’s outright ban on plastic bags (it is from the website France24, in honour of the original blogger, Sabine!) –

    As for the game – I try to carry a reusable water bottle which I can refill at work, university or when I go swimming. This stops me buying water, which is increasing being treated like a commodity (and costs more per litre than petrol in some places!) and doesn’t leave me with an unnecessary plastic bottle to dispose of. Although I do sometimes forget to pick it up in the morning…

  2. sdiederichs Says:

    Thanks Peter. So I was wrong and I am very happy to be so. I had no idea that Rwanda was plastic bag-free. That’s great and inspiring! So it can be done!! Interesting how the North, which is always so ready and keen to give lessons to the South, is light years behind on that one. I wish that Hyde Park was as free of plastic as Kigali’s main square!! I agree with you. Why can’t we just stop using these thin plastic bags although I have heard many people complain that they litter the streets and are a plague? It is really shocking to see how un-environmentally conscious we can be. As an example, just go to the Docklands library at about 5pm on any given day and observe the trash which is left on the tables although there are recycling bins everywhere. Can’t we do just a little bit to save our planet? I guess it is easier to talk about it than to DO something about it!!

  3. izabelamichno Says:

    Hi plastic-bags-opponent-group , I am with you in this movement!

    Although as Peter said, it is sometimes quite hard to remember not use them on an everyday basis…
    Rwanda is an example! I am impressed, it shows how much developing countries can take the lead and inspire Western countries in terms of policy making and sustainable thinking. The countries of the global South have the biggest interest not to reproduce mistakes done in the global North. It is very encouraging to notice that they are such examples. It also shows the power of environmental advocacy and a long-term thinking of the national government, which is the key player in making those stories possible.

    On the same page as this article I found a 1min film about the urine generating electricity…. I just wanted to highlight how much it is a great idea, a promising news !
    I do believe there is a great deal of innovation and simple solutions to our disastrous use of the environment.

    Have a look if you missed it:

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