Plastic Bags - Surgery Required?
As Alistair Cooke may have commented during his lifetime, there are many differences and just as many similarities between the United States and Great Britain.
Usually we follow the US trends but sometimes in Britain we seem to be ahead of the game. Take plastic bags for example - actually don't take a plastic bag. Instead if you still need a plastic bag then you will pay for it, but otherwise retailers in the UK (and particularly in Scotland) encourage shoppers to carry their own reusable bags. In February 2007 UK retailers following the example already set by the Republic of Ireland agreed to reduce the impact of their carrier bags by 25 per cent by the end of 2008. In Britain we now find it easy to remember to take our own bags to the supermarket. We have positively changed our behaviour pattern. The thought of having to pay for a plastic bag has sorted that out. The wonderfully named WRAP (which stands for Waste and Resources Action Programme) manages the position of all four governments in the UK, and they are a big supporter of the campaign. At the beginning of the campaign some two and a half years ago 13 billion carrier bags were used in the UK.
Many leading retailers have signed up to this and you will find it hard to acquire a plastic bag without incurring some cost, even in your local corner shop.
But in the US there are many plastic bags offered in supermarkets and other shops. In fact assistants find it odd when asked either for a paper alternative or indeed when asked to keep their plastic bag. As a result some 380 billion plastic bags are used in the States each year and only a very small percentage of those are recycled. Plastic bags can be dangerous to wildlife and it is claimed that they can also be one of the causes of flooding as they can clog up pipes and drains. In the face of claims such as these it is astounding to us Brits to find out that only one city, San Francisco, has signed up to a complete ban on plastic bags and no state in the US has either banned or taxed them.
Whether or not there is truth in all of the claims made against the plastic bag, it remains a fact that using a resource, whatever it is and wherever it comes from, for a very short time before throwing it away is a complete waste...isn't it?