The Plastic Bag Effect - #StopAndSwap

The number of single use plastic carrier bags issued in 2017-18 by the seven largest retailers was over 1 billion. This is equivalent to every person on the planet using 19 bags per year. Whilst this is a vast improvement on the estimated 140 bags per person per year before the 5p bag charge was introduced, a reduction of almost 90% of single-use plastic bags, it is still simply too many.

10 Facts About Single-use Plastic Bags*

  1. Plastic bags are used for an average of 12 minutes. 

  2. At least 267 different species have been affected by plastic pollution in the ocean.

  3. 100,000 marine animals are killed by plastic bags annually.

  4. According to Waste Management, only 1 percent of plastic bags are returned for recycling. That means that the average family only recycles 15 bags a year; the rest end up in landfills or as litter.

  5. It’s predicted that by 2050 the world’s oceans will contain a greater mass of plastic than fish!

  6. A single piece of plastic can kill a sea turtle. 

  7. It only takes about 14 plastic bags for the equivalent of the fuel required to drive one mile.

  8. One in three leatherback sea turtles have been found with plastic in their stomachs.

  9. It takes 500 (or more) years for a plastic bag to degrade in a landfill. Unfortunately the bags don't break down completely but instead photo-degrade, becoming microplastics that absorb toxins and continue to pollute the environment

  10. It only takes about 14 plastic bags for the equivalent of the gas required to drive one mile.

*Data from

Environmentally-friendly alternatives to single-use plastic bags

Wanting to ditch the plastic bag? Here are a few ideas to get you started. Although some of these sustainable alternatives are a bit more expensive they will save you money in the long run and help the environment!

Beeswax wrap – Used to wrap anything from cheese and meat to sandwiches. These are becoming increasingly popular with their bright, jazzy designs

Cotton shopping bags – look good and last longer than your normal plastic bag. There are so many different ones to choose from and can be used time and time again. There really is no excuse to plastic bags for your shopping.

Loose fruit & veg – Shop wise! Ditch the plastic wrapped fruit and veg in favour or their loose packed cousins. It reduces plastic use and allows you to actually select the ones you want, and the amount you want without the rotten bits too. For when there is no alternative, be bold and unwrap your cucumbers at the checkout, make a statement and stand up for our environment.

Deli counters - bring your own container or beeswax wraps! Generally deli cheese and meat use less environmentally offensive plastic than your average Cathedral City Cheddar packaging. All the main supermarkets are on board with this and will happily accept your alternative containers.

Anne-Marie Eveleigh