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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:

Recipe: White and milk chocolate muffins

November 5, 2012 2 comments

My sweet tooth has definitely been alerted after reading this BBC article on sweets. It questions the nostalgia/novelty surrounding our most loved sweets and I for one, have a strong craving for sour boiled sweets now!

Therefore for all you chocolate lovers, I thought I would share a recipe that I have perfected. It is really simple and takes about 20 minutes preparation time and 30 minutes cooking in the oven (total time = 50 minutes). Perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon or mid-week treat.

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 130g plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 160ml whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 160g unsalted butter
  • 70g white chocolate
  • 50g milk chocolate (or I use Galaxy Counters)
  • 12 hole-muffin tray with paper cases
  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C
  2. Mix the egg and sugar until well combined and pale in colour. You can use either a handheld or electric whisk.
  3. In a different bowl sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and add the pinch of salt.
  4. In another bowl combine the milk and vanilla extract.
  5. Gradually add the two mixtures to the egg mixture. Beat until all the ingredients are fully mixed together.
  6. Stir in the melted butter.
  7. Chop the white chocolate into small chunks and half the Galaxy Counters (or chop milk chocolate). Then add all the chocolate to the mixture.
  8. Using an ice cream scoop, add one scoop to each case and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes. Tip: Ice cream scoops are ideal for ensuring each paper case contains a similar amount of cake/muffin mix. It saves using two or three spoons to scrape the mixture. Simple and easy giving a professional finish to your end baking results.
  9. After 30 minutes check to see if the sponge bounces back when touched and use a skewer to see if all the mixture is cooked.
  10. Leave to cool before turning out onto a wire rack.
  11. Enjoy your sweet, moist muffins avec a cup of tea!

 

SOPA and PIPA, will they leave us speechless?

January 18, 2012 7 comments

It has been a while since I have last blogged and this is mainly due to the demanding workload of my third and final year at university. However, today marks an important day for the internet that cannot be ignored, with SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act), anti-piracy bills, being considered in the USA.

The legislations are aimed to stop online piracy but many people feel there will be devastating consequences regarding freedom of speech and movement online. If the laws are put into action they can create blacklists of websites to be censored, remove these websites from search engines and cease funding. The DNS (Domain Name System) would be manipulated by these laws and could therefore make websites vanish in the blink of the eye. This might not always be a “bad thing” you may say, but for example, if it were to stumble upon a contaminated blog, instead of discarding of that one, single blog the entire website/company would cease to exist.

Innovation, liberation and freedom would all be squandered by these two movements. If the legislations offered greater fairness and well-thought and developed arbitrary values then perhaps they would be considered more useful to the internet. However, this is not the case.

The BBC (2012) state that

The bills propose that anyone found guilty of streaming copyrighted content without permission 10 or more times within six months should face up to five years in jail.

This will benefit those that are damaged by people committing piracy which is right and just, however as stated above the delivery methods of punishment are not as clear-cut nor effective.

Those in favour include music publishers, film companies, book publishers and television channels and networks. Though PIPA and SOPA have caused a stir amongst large online presences such as Wikipedia whom are feature a black out showing their utmost support against the proposed laws. Others include eBay, LinkedIn and Google.

PIPA is currently being cradled by the Senate whilst SOPA currently remains in the hands of The House of Representatives. The body of the internet is yet to be disfigured but these changes may just be the making of an unattractive global medium.

Useful links

BBC article discussing sites protesting the legislations

The Guardian– Stop SOPA or the web really will go dark

Categories: Blog, Opinion Tags: , , , , ,
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