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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:

Tramlines headliners 2015

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Gilles Peterson, A Guy Called Gerald, Basement Jaxx (DJs), Evian Christ, Romare (DJ), James Holden & lots more added to Tramlines Festival Lineup

The lineup for Tramlines Festival has just got even bigger thanks to an injection of electronic and alternative artists to the 2015 bill.  New acts to perform in Sheffield from 24-26 July include Ninja Tune’s Romare, 6 Music’s Gilles Peterson, the young talent of Evian Christ, the legendary A Guy Called Gerald, a DJ set from Basement Jaxx and many more.

Now in its seventh year with The Charlatans, Basement Jaxx and Wu Tang Clan already in place to headline, Tramlines is one of the UK’s most musically eclectic festivals. Held across multiple outdoor spaces and venues across Sheffield city centre, Tramlines is the alternative festival to discover a ton of hot new talent alongside internationally acclaimed acts – and it’s seriously good value for money at just £30 for a weekend ticket.

Katy B - Main Stage - Tramlines 2014

Following their live headline set on the Main Stage on Saturday night, Basement Jaxx will stay on to play an after-hours DJ set at o2 Academy, filling the dancefloor like only they know how. Elsewhere is the hugely talent Romare, whose cut-and-paste production has attracted the attention of fans from across the bass music spectrum; legendary record collector, DJ, producer, label boss and experimental music polymath Gilles Peterson; Kanye West collaborator Evian Christ; the UK’s first acid-house producer and the man behind the seminal classic Voodoo Ray A Guy Called Gerald; and Border Community head honcho and trend-setting producer James Holden.

For fans of house and techno, there’s plenty on offer as Tramlines has topped up the bill with the minimal warehouse techno sounds of Sheffield’s Lo Shea; acid house and techno from Berlin-based Klasse Recordings founder Luca Lozano; and bags of grime-inspired house and techno from Pev n Kowton of the Livity Sound trio.

Keeping its late night programme as diverse as possible, Tramlines has drafted in talent which spans the bass music scenes. Acts include a live set from South London producer Henry Wu, who’ll delve into garage, jazz and funk; local residents from the hugely popular Banana Hill night Cervo & JVC, with their flamboyant crossover of African and Latin American sounds and global electronica; emerging hip-hop producer Cypria; dancehall and UK bass artist (and partner in rhythm with Toddla T) Serocee; and from jazz/hip-hop artist Sumochief.

Other new additions on the alternative tip include Sheffield’s Blood Sport who, as well as a performing a live set of blistering guitars and techno-gilded polyrhythms, will curate the Tramlines Millennium Gallery Sunday lineup for a second year; 19 year-old singer-songwriter Billie Black, whose soulful R&B has attracted the attention of Gilles Peterson; and Warp Records signing Lonelady.

These acts join a bill that already includes Erol Alkan, Mike Skinner (DJ Set), Surgeon, Roman Flugel, Ghostpoet, Buzzcocks, Sugarhill Gang, Melle Mel & Scorpio, Billy Bragg and dozens more.

Tramlines festival director Sarah Nulty commented:

“We are very excited to add even more fantastic and diverse artists to the bill. We want to ensure that the night at Tramlines is a strong as the daytime. We almost have a continual run of music for 24 hours a day, and with all this in store, we expect people will be getting very little sleep this year!”

Weekend tickets can be purchased from http://www.tramlines.org.uk for only £30+ BF, which makes Tramlines one of the UK’s best value festivals to attend.

For up-to-the-minute information about Tramlines 2015, visit www.tramlines.org.uk or follow Tramlines on Twitter @tramlines

 

LINEUP – (new additions in bold)

 

The Charlatans / Basement Jaxx / Wu Tang Clan

 

Billy Bragg / Buzzcocks / Martha Reeves / Sugarhill Gang

 

A Guy Called Gerald / Basement Jaxx (DJ Set) / Charlotte OC / Dutch Uncles / Erol Alkan / Evian Christ / Ghostpoet / Gilles Peterson / GoGo Penguin / Honeyblood / James Holden / Jimmy Edgar /  Kate Tempest  / Marika Hackman  / Melle Mel + Scorpio / Mike Skinner (DJ Set) / Rolo Tomassi / Roman Flugel / Romare (DJ) / Surgeon / West Street Mob

 

And So I Watch You From Afar / Aquilo / Billie Black / Blanck Mass / Blood Sport / Bodyjack / Bruising / Cervo & JVC / Cypria (DJ) / Diagrams / Ekkah / Formation / Gnod / Gulf / Hannah Lou Clark / Henry Wu Duo (live) / Hey Sholay / Hidden Orchestra / Jagaara / Jus Now / Kamera / Knifeworld / Kris Wadsworth / Lone Wolf / Lo Shea / Luca Lozano / The Moon / Nai Harvest / Pev n Kowton / Polo / Portico / Robyn / Serocee / Sherwell / Shopping / Slaves / Sumochief / Tropics / U / Ultimate Painting / Walls

 

Will you be attending Sheffield’s most loved festival?

Bear’s Den: The Cluny, Newcastle 12th February 2015

Tucked away on the outskirts of Newcastle is one of the city’s best bars with space upstairs as a music venue. The Cluny offers an intimate room for performers with a basic square stage and narrow audience standing area. Only last month (15th February) did I have the pleasure to hear live music from Bear’s Den. This review is a little ‘better later than never’, as the band deserve recognition for their ear pleasing melodies coupled with catchy lyrics.

Bear's Den, The Cluny

This is the fourth time I have seen them live and they always have the crowd hypnotised with their sound. I remember seeing them last year at Somersault festival and they managed to instantly win over and capture the audience’s attention despite a 45-minute long sound check. This shows both their professionalism as well as natural stage presence. The thing I like about the lead, Andrew Davie, is his humour and audience conversation is not in any way forced.

Bear's Den live gig at The Cluny, Newcastle

Year on year they have grown as a band and I can definitely say they offer a tight-knit set with little hesitation. Similar bands such as Iron and Wine and Mumford and Sons started just like this; raw sound, energy and emotion and I hope Bear’s Den follow in their (paw)prints and go on to gain further fans and opportunities. Though obviously keeping ticket prices reasonable for all those loyal fans, right?

Their hour and a quarter long set (approx) did not disappoint and they performed some, if not all, of their carefully crafted songs that provoke such emotion and energy. ‘When You Break, ‘Elysium’, ‘Agape’ and ‘Sophie’ were the most memorable of the night.

The beauty of their music is that it is raw and does not rely on being heavily produced or manipulated. It is very simply, a handful of guys and instruments with little production, married with the distinctive vocals from lead, Andrew Davie.

I have noticed recently they’ve been updating their songs ever so slightly. For instance, early fans may recognise that their latest YouTube video of the powerful hit Agape, has been sped up and features different harmonies. It is
filmed in the beautiful beach setting of the South West, Devon (where I consider my second home).

I for one prefer the original but can see the benefit in the recently-produced, smoother version. However the cutting edge, raw sound is forever embedded in the first recording of this song.

The Bear’s Den epidemic will reach a venue near you, in the not too distant future hopefully…

Bear’s Den can be found here, they’re also on Facebook and tweet over at @bearsdenmusic. If you haven’t come across this band yet, be sure to lend them your ear to Spotify one evening this week!

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