Two weeks into the English tax on single use carrier bags in supermarkets, ninety percent of shoppers are still heading out for their weekly shop forgetting their reusable bags.
With millions of carriers still being issued by major stores every day, one national waste and management company is posing the difficult question: Is the carrier bag tax high enough?
The BigGreen.co.uk waste prevention company says that the first weeks of the tax has seen shoppers use all sort of ingenious tactics to avoid the tax, all to avoid paying just five pence. “In the great scheme of things, five pence is just chicken feed,” says Big Green‘s Johnny Ratcliffe. “That kind of small change in just a minor inconvenience to most people.”
That’s why Big Green is suggesting an early increase in the tax, as the company is convinced that English shoppers won’t end their plastic habit unless bags are made truly undesirable. “We get through 7 billion plastic bags every year, and that number’s not going to go down unless people genuinely switch to reusable bags.”
Big Green asked over 1,500 shoppers about how their habits have changed in the first week of the 5p charge, and found:
– 89% forgot their reusable bags, or didn’t have bags to begin with
– 11% brought bags with them
– 73% paid 5p per bag for one or more single-use bags
– 21% bought reusable plastic or hessian bags at the till
– 6% used no bags at all, or improvised
Figures released earlier this year show how successful the policy has been in other parts of the UK where the bag tax has been a reality for one or more years.
– Scottish plastic bag use has decreased by 130 million bags, or around 80%
– In Wales, plastic bag use has dropped by 71%, with overall bag use dropping by 57%
– Plastic bag use has dropped from 190 million bags to 30 million per year in Northern Ireland
But to make the policy a success, English shoppers have to be convinced to reuse their bags, or somehow get their shopping home without using bags at all. With the first news stories about shoppers refusing to pay the tax hitting the media, Business Waste has heard tales of people resorting to improvisation to get their groceries home without the use of bags, some more successful than others:
– Some shoppers are packing their groceries into cardboard boxes, in scenes reminiscent of the early days of supermarkets when used boxes weren’t sent to the crusher
– Another person was seen improvising a rucksack out of their coat, just to get their shopping out to the car park
– One checkout worker witnessed a grown man putting his shopping into (unused) dog poo bags produced from the customer’s pockets
– Another said they had seen families unloading trollies directly into the back of their cars, presumably to relay everything into the house once they got home
“And that’s just to save five pence per bag – or about ten quid a year for the average family,” says Big Green’s Johnny Ratcliffe, who hopes more people come up with alternative ways of getting their goods home to get the message across that saving resources is a good thing.
“But from what we’ve heard, the huge, huge majority of people are still putting their hands in their pockets and paying out the 5p,” he says, and that’s why he feels the charge has been set far too low. That being the case, it looks like we’re resistant as a country to such a small charge, and that’s why it should be at least 20p – or perhaps even higher.”
But the way ahead is simple for English shoppers: Be like the rest of the UK and remember your reusable bags.
“While it’s great that 4p per bag is going to charity, the kindest thing you can do is help save the planet by using fewer throwaway bags.”
4 Common Items That Can be Reused Again and Again
As a society we are getting much better at taking our obligations to the world and environment around us more seriously. This is undoubtedly a good thing! The effects of climate change are beginning to manifest across the world, and this is turning the issue from an abstract threat into a very real danger. Trying to introduce some greener, more eco-friendly practices into your life isn’t just a great way of doing something beneficial for society and the world around you. It is a wonderful way of engaging positively with the world and carries with it numerous psychological benefits.
Being a greener, more ecologically friendly person doesn’t require any dramatic life changes. Breaking or making a few small habits is all it takes to make your life a greener one. In this article we look at one of the easiest, yet most effective green practices to get into: reusing everyday items.
Jars and Containers
Glass and metal are widely recycled, and recycling is a good thing! However, consider whether any containers you buy, whether it’s a tub of ice cream or a jar of coffee, can be washed out and reused for something else. Mason jars, for example, can be used to store homemade pasta sauce and can be washed for future use. Once you start thinking about it, you will find endless opportunities to reuse your old containers.
An ice-cold soda is a wonderful treat on a hot day, but buying soda can get expensive, and the manufacturing and distribution of the drinks themselves isn’t great for the environment. However, by holding on to your old soda bottles and repurposing them as water bottles, you can save money on drinks, or use them to measure out water for your garden.
Most of the time groceries come in paper bags, which are better for the environment than the plastic alternatives, but they are less durable and thus harder to reuse. Whenever the store places your items in a plastic bag, hang onto it so you can reuse the bags again. If you want to take it one step further, consider looking into buying some personalized recycled bags. These bags are designed to last for a long time and are made of recycled materials. They look striking and unique, they’ll turn heads, and maybe even attitudes!
If you’re a keen gardener, then you will already probably know how to reseed your plants in order to ensure a fresh crop after each plant’s lifecycle. If you have space in your garden, or haven’t yet tried your hand at gardening, then consider planting a small vegetable plot. Growing your own veggies means that you’ll be helping to cut back on the emissions generated by their transport and production. The best part about growing your own food in this way is that, by harvesting properly and saving the seeds, you can be set up with fresh vegetables for life!
Reusing and recycling common household items is an easy way to make your world a little bit greener. Once you start looking for these opportunities you’ll realize that they’re everywhere!
These 5 Green Office Mistakes Are Costing You Money
The sudden interest in green business is very encouraging. According to recent reports, 42% of all companies have rated sustainability as an important element of their business. Unfortunately, the focus on sustainability will only last if companies can find ways to use it to boost their ROI.
Many businesses get so caught up in being socially conscious that they hope the financial aspect of it takes care of itself. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to go green and boost your net income at the same time.
Here are some important mistakes that you will want to avoid.
Only implementing sustainability on micro-scale
The biggest reason that brands are going green is to improve their optics with their customers. Too many businesses are making very minor changes, such as processing paperwork online and calling themselves green.
Customers have become wary of these types of companies. If you want to earn their business, you are going to need to go all the way. Bring in a green business consultant and make every feasible change to demonstrate that you are a green organization from top to bottom.
Not prioritizing investments by long-term ROI
It isn’t realistic to build an entirely green organization overnight. You will need to allocate your capital wisely.
Before investing in any green assets or services, you should always conduct a long-term cost benefit analysis. The initial investment for some green services may be over $20,000. If they don’t shave your cost by at least $3,000 a year, they probably aren’t worth the investment.
Determine which green investments will have the best pay off over the next 10 years. Make these investments before anything else. Then compare your options within each of those categories.
Implementing green changes without a plan
Effective, long-term planning is the key to business success. This principle needs to be applied to green organizations as well.
Before implementing a green strategy, you must answer the following questions:
- How will I communicate my green business philosophy to my customers?
- How will running a green business affect my revenue stream?
- How will adopting green business strategies change my monthly expenses? Will they increase or decrease them?
- How will my company finance green upgrades and other investments?
The biggest mistake that too many green businesses make is being overly optimistic with these forecasts. Take the time to collect objective data and make your decisions accordingly. This will help you run a much more profitable green business.
Not considering the benefits of green printing
Too many companies believe that going paperless is the only way to run a green organization. Unfortunately, going 100% paperless it’s not feasible for most companies.
Rather than aim for an unrealistic goal, consider the option of using a more environmentally friendly printer. It won’t be perfect, but it will be better than the alternative.
According to experts from Doranix, environmental printers have several benefits:
- They can process paper that has been completely recycled.
- They consume less energy than traditional printers.
- They use ink that is more environmentally friendly.
You want to take a look at different green printers and compare them. You’ll find that some will meet your needs as a green business.
Poorly communicating your green business strategy to customers
Brand positioning doesn’t happen on its own. If you want to run a successful green business, you must communicate your message to customers as clearly as possible. You must also avoid the appearance that you are patronizing them.
The best approach is to be clear when you were first making the change. I’ll make an announcement about your company‘s commitment to sustainability.
You also want to reinforce this message overtime by using green labels on all of your products. You don’t have to be blatant with your messaging at this stage. Simply provide a small, daily reminder on your products and invoices.
Finally, it is a good idea to participate in green business seminars and other events. If your community has a local Green Chamber of Commerce, you should consider joining as well.
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