Well done England. It’s been a dismal year with the passing of many icons, our shortfalls in sporting prowess (come on you Olympians) and the Brexit divide. But stand up and give yourself a round of applause. When it comes to redefining plastic bags we’re brilliant.
In the six months since the 5p charge was introduced for plastic bags in shops, our usage of them has dropped by 85 per cent. That’s six billion five hundred million less.
My writer brain naturally balks at numbers, but even I can tell that’s a pretty banging result.
These Defra figures are the first official assessment of the impact of the change, which was introduced to help reduce litter and protect wildlife.
England was the last part of the UK to adopt the 5p levy, after successful schemes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. England as usual is the last to join the party, but of course once there is totally up for it giving it loads in the middle of the dance floor.
The skills needed to achieve this major shift in first world problem public behaviour appears to resonate with the English psyche. It seems we’re nation of closet bag ladies and putting aside initial huffs and puffs have elevated the status of the carrier bag to something just short of sacred. Is it the appeal of shoving two fingers up at big business, saving money, and engaging planning and forethought just to walk into a store tooled up with bags? Who knows. But thank goodness I’m not alone in this.
How many of you now carry assorted shopper bags in the boot of your car or have a special corner in your home where you keep them? I bet some of you even have acquired some on your travels abroad giving your collection an exotic feel.
What about carrying stealth bags around with you? You know, the pac a mac type that concertinas inside-out to slip into a cover cleverly built in its lining, ready in to lurk unobtrusively in your handbag/ man bag/ holdall (whatever) and jump into action. I’ve noticed a growing kudos in certain types from certain retailers. I’ve overheard comments such as, “oh you’ve got one of those, good aren’t they?” or “love the design of that one,” at work, on the train, and of course in the English institution queueing for the till.
And how many of you covet the now rare ‘lesser spotted’ plastic bag when one comes into your possession? I don’t know about you but I find they are perfect as freezer bags, or for entombing your leaky water bottle in your rucksack. I’ve become rather zealous making sure the few I have aren’t wasted on frippery.
So what next – plastic bags sold on eBay as collector’s items? Yeah, yeah, you laugh. “It’ll never happen.” Guess what. Already is.