Action: Use a shopping bag

It’s easy

Here is another very easy thing we can all do to reduce the amount of plastic polluting our planet or entering our waste disposal systems.

Simply take, and use, a shopping bag every visit you make to the shops.

The idea, of course, is that if you have a shopping bag with you when you visit the shops, you won’t need to use a plastic carrier bag. Plus you can significantly reduce the use of other packaging as well.

By “shopping bag” we mean anything from a supermarket “bag for life”, made from recycled plastic and designed to be reused many times, through to designer bags, via cheap tote bags and the like. All are good, as long as they are robust enough to be used over and over again.

After all, if you can carry an iPhone, headset, and your vape, why can’t you carry a packed up reusable bag or two that weigh no more than a few grams?

So please, for this action, resolve to take bags with you and refuse to buy single use carrier bags at the shops.

Plastic bag litter

Why is this important?

Fortunately the number of single use carrier bags we get through is in decline, mainly because many countries are finally banning them or introducing mandatory charges for them. In the UK, for example, supermarkets have to charge 10p for each bag, and some have stopped using them altogether.

However, there is still a long, long way to go. Around the world we still use (usually just once) billions of these bags. They litter our streets, pollute our waterways, contaminate our countryside, kill animals, consume valuable resources, poison our food chains, and cost millions of pounds / dollars / euros.

In particular, this form of plastic pollution is causing untold harm to our marine life. Many species ingest the plastic thinking it is food, causing painful suffering and death.

See these images to understand just how damaging the bags can be.

Even when these bags break down (which can take decades at least) we need to appreciate that the plastic is still there; it doesn’t ever go away. It breaks into smaller and smaller pieces to become what are referred to as microplastics. These are then in the water and soil, so they enter the food chain and are known to contaminate it right to the top – meaning they end up in our own foodstuffs!


  • Plastic bags are not biodegradable
  • Bags fly off our rubbish, trucks, and landfills, and then contaminate the landscape
  • Even if they end up in proper landfill, they then take decades or centuries break down
  • … into ever smaller particles that continue to pollute and poison the soil and water
  • Millions of our wildlife and sealife suffer and die because of plastic bags
  • The animals choke on the bags, or die slowly and painfully when the stomach or gut is blocked
  • Microplastics are coming back to haunt humans by polluting our own food chains
  • The valuable resources used to make the bags can and should be better used
  • The bags and their disposal are a significant cost; a drain on our economies

Even so-called biodegradable bags should be avoided. Biodegrading can still take many many years during which time they still do all of the same damage.

Take action

So please, use a shopping bag; it’s very easy to do and does the world good.

If you haven’t done so already, please sign up to our bulletin “Take Action” using the form below, and thank you for your support.

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