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The Lowdown on the UK’s 5p Plastic Bag Charge

“We’re livinggg in a material world and I am a material girl…”

Well Madonna, the materials are slowly but surely being sorted out! If you haven’t noticed, as of October 5th 2015, shoppers in the UK are being charged 5p for every plastic bag given out by supermarkets/large stores. The UK have been quite behind in implementing this change, but it is one that is much needed for our environment and resources.

As the BBC discusses the aim is to “cut the 7.6bn bags given to shoppers at major supermarkets every year, and retailers are expected to spend the money raised from the charge on good causes”. The latter is obviously dependent on the supermarket and as we know, [here comes the cynic], big corporations often have other plans or hidden agendas.

Astonishingly, last year witnessed 7 major supermarkets giving out over 7.6 billion plastic bags. This is a phenomenal, jaw dropping amount which the BBC equates to 140 per person and 61, 000 tonnes in total. Think of how many football pitches that could fill!

So, is this a welcome change?

Since this charge has been introduced I have heard a lot of mixed views, from colleagues to friends, to fellow food shoppers browsing the grocery aisles. Some people feel that if they buy something from the supermarket they expect to receive a bag [free of charge] to transport it home. People can’t always be expected to carry plastic bags around with them, can they?

On the other hand some people feel this initiative is well overdue and it will hopefully undo some of the damage we have inflicted upon our environment. As well as:

  • Save money clearing up litter
  • Save money in carbon savings
  • (Hopefully) reduce the number of animal related injuries and deaths with plastic bags

People may ‘umm and ‘ahh but the bottom line is plastic bags are not biodegradable and this is a problem (and always has been).

What do you think?

When will you have to pay for a bag?

The 5p charge only applies to shops with 250 or more full-time employees.

The Association of Convenience Stores, which represents over 33,500 local shops, reports that only 8,000 of these were planning to charge for plastic carrier bags. We may see this fluctuate in the next few months.

When will you not be charged for a bag?

Free bags are provided when buying uncooked meat, poultry or fish, prescription medicine, some fresh produce (flowers/potatoes), live aquatic creatures in water, and unwrapped ready-to-eat food such as chips.

Most home delivery services are also giving consumers an option to opt for a ‘bagless service’. Morrisons and Ocado in particular are still charging 5p per bag for deliveries but will return this cost when customers return the bags back to them to recycle.

Although it may still be confusing to know exactly when you will be expected to pay for a bag, this change will hopefully shift people’s way of thinking. It is early days and all changes require time. In my opinion, this will hopefully encourage people to look at their behaviours and promote sustainable actions. It isn’t hard to be prepared and have bags at the ready, whether that is kept in a handbag or in the boot of your car.

A resourceful and renewable outlook is one that we should transfer to other areas of our lives. Food waste, recycling etc. Sustainable living is something that needs to be practiced as well as preached and I am pleased to see this change. It is just a shame it takes a law to make obvious changes that benefit our world…


If you still haven’t got your bag’s worth, check out these interesting related articles:

How I failed last year and how I want to fail again

I am all for New Year resolutions. I think this “idea” provides a safety blanket, a bravado, a ‘fake motivation’ that somehow spurs us to really fulfil our year like no other. Cliché as they may seem, paper filled with endless lists and top tens, how useful are they to us?

I for one like the belief and drive they instil in some people (myself included), and though some may mock people’s unachievable goals I think it is important to remember that having aims in life, or for the foreseeable months is never a bad thing.

Last year I over ambitiously set out to read 52 books in 52 weeks. I may have failed to read that number (due to some books being 700 pages) yet I still left 2014 with a sense of real accomplishment. It was not tainted by one of my friends continuously emphasising how I had totally failed this goal of mine.

However that should not have mattered to them and nor to me as I did succeed: I attempted my goal and reshaped it as I went through 2014 realising my page heavy books would slow me down and mean missing my ’52 target’.

This feeling of self-accomplishment isn’t necessarily one found at work or shared with others; it is an emotion felt at a very personal level.

A similar thinking blog caught my eye the other day as the author mentioned how she is focusing on one word to take her through 2015. This isn’t a new idea by any stretch of the imagination but it is another way to concentrate on your mental attitude. A way to feel ‘refreshed’ in your body, mind and attitude.

It can also be very therapeutic to list your dreams or aims no matter how farfetched and in turn, you can then plan how to meet these. I think the biggest obstacle in making changes, whether that is changing your diet or exercising more, is rewiring your mental state. Blocking out negative hurdles before the race starts.

Stop and think – how do you really feel about this goal? Is it one you really want to do – is your heart, mind and way of thinking in this one hundred per cent? It goes hand in hand with the saying, if you think it you can do it. It is without a doubt, our biggest strength and power is our mind. It goes further than even we know and is always two steps.

Do you have your own resolutions? How do you find they help you?

Interview with Illustrator, nick’s fault.

Art has no limit or boundaries and I am always to intrigued to get inside artist’s heads to find out what makes them tick. I actually came across freelance illustrator, Nick Willis of nick’s fault, as he entered my herbal tea competition on my other blog. Working in a funeral directors during the day and freelancing at night, I ask Nick more about his creative skill and dreamy, hypnotic drawings.

nick's fault illustrator

Where did your love of art come from?

My love of art is an old and deep-set feature of my childhood; my brothers and I would sit backwards on the pews in church as kids and spend the whole service drawing batman and cars – My dad used to pitch in (presumably if he wasn’t all that taken with the message!) and always managed to create really brilliant pictures in an incredibly short period of time, usually of steam trains and the like. I think I always just wanted to emulate him – What young boy doesn’t want the approval of their father? I also had a very immersive experience of picture books as a youngster; a story was never as good if it wasn’t filled with full colour, lucid illustrations. From then on, I always described the world to everyone around me through pictures.

Is illustrating your full-time job?

Sadly, illustrating isn’t my full-time job yet – I try to get as much freelance work as possible and am always working on my own projects but that isn’t paying the rent just yet, so I work full-time as an in-house desktop publisher for a funeral directors, of all places!

What or where do you draw inspiration from?

I try to escape reality in my work and always have. It’s not that there isn’t plenty of interesting stuff to draw from on earth, it’s just that I prefer to study it, learn to draw it and then take it apart, using various elements from everything that I’ve ever seen to create worlds of my own. I look at new and exciting science articles, hand drawn maps, old writings of explorers and biologists anatomical drawings – All of it end up influencing my work one way or another, albeit indirectly.

What materials do you use for your illustrations? And what computer programs?

I try to mix up my working methods but always have a safety net of ink pens and Photoshop – I’m always playing around with printing inks and lino cutting, as well as good old colouring pencils, but when I need to produce a professional final piece of work it tends to be rendered on paper and then coloured on the computer; it just means that I know I can make it print ready for my clients!

If you had to pick one of your illustrations, which has been your favourite to date?

Choosing one of my own illustrations as a favourite is really tough! I think I can pinpoint one which signifies a point at which I started to really raise my game in a technical sense and that’s an image called “Flying Inventions” – It’s just a bit of fun but it reflects my style and desire to create new things, as well as tapping to some more detailed colouring skills. I think I’ve probably created more detailed work since then but, for me, this image reflects my style and captures the fun I have while drawing.
Flying-Inventions

What advice would you give someone trying to get into illustration?

It’s hard to give advice to would-be illustrators because I really still class myself as one too! For what it’s worth, I think it’s important to find your own style and go for it, unrelentingly. Anyone can follow tutorials of how to perfectly render a million photorealistic images online but it’s the people who create their own style from scratch and find a voice through it that have always made the biggest impact. Also, don’t give up if you haven’t made it in a year, 3 years or even 10! If you love it, keep doing it – Make ends meet however you need to but never let go of that small part of your soul that wants to draw something.

Sum up your design style in 10 words.

Escapist, skeletal-free whimsy in a world that’s too serious.

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