Single-use plastic bags are fast becoming the environmental enemy. On Friday, yet another marine mammal fell victim to plastic waste when a pilot whale died after swallowing 80 plastic bags.
Many of us have a kitchen drawer full of plastic bags, accumulating after many shopping trips, with no idea what to do with them. One thing's for sure, you definitely shouldn't be throwing them away - here are five things you can do to cut down on your plastic bag use.
Carry a reusable tote bag with you at all times
Picking up a plastic bag when you've ducked into a shop spontaneously to do some shopping is super convenient, but it doesn't take long for this to impact on the planet.
Instead, fold up three or four tote bags and keep them in your bag or pocket at all times. That way, you'll always be prepared for an eco-friendly shopping trip.
Return them to a supermarket's collection point
Instead of letting them collect dust in a pile under the sink, you can recycle your old carrier bags. A number of supermarket food delivery services might take your plastic bags back with them.
As well as the larger plastic carrier bags, you can also return the smaller bags used for fruit and vegetables, plastic freezer bags and bubble wrap to collection points.
Use paper bags when possible
Some shops offer alternatives to plastic bags, while some have switched to paper altogether. Paper bags are both biodegradable (so when you eventually throw them away, they will break down) and recyclable (using your local household service).
However, it's important that you commit to this switch and make sure you're reusing your paper bags regularly. According to research by Recycle Now, a paper bag needs to be used three times to be a better environmental option than using a plastic carrier bag.
Donate them to charity
Charitable organisations will accept plastic bags, so that those hit financially by the plastic bag charges can shop easier. Also, a number of supermarkets donate the money generated from the plastic bag charges to charity.
Anything you can do to extend your plastic bag's life, and avoiding buying another one, is a good environmental move. Try using them as a rubbish bin in your bathroom bin, to put dirty laundry in on a weekend away or to store food and drink that could leak in your bag. These are all good ways to repurpose your plastic bag and keep it out of both our oceans and animals' stomachs.