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Plastic bags

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Post by Jaded Green on 15th March 2012, 11:52 am

A few months ago, Mr JG and I had a slightly edgy conversation that got me thinking. Mr JG had just put the kitchen rubbish out and was looking for another carrier bag to line the bin. I had been so enthusiastic about taking my cotton bags shopping and hadn’t had an Ocado delivery for some time, so we were running low and hadn’t got any of the typical supermarket type bag where the handles tied together so conveniently. He was actually a bit cross that I had so successfully cut our plastic consumption.

So, I got thinking about plastic bags and what we did before we had them. I remember that we started buying bin liners when I was a child. I think they were a bit of a novelty. I looked into the history of plastic bags and discovered they were introduced about 50 years ago. I’ve been trying to remember what we did with our rubbish bin before we used plastic bin liners. And I wondered what my parents and their parents had done. I think we must have lined our rubbish bin with newspaper. And of course the newspaper lined parcels went straight into the metal dustbin.
I have a roll of small pedal bin liners in my cupboard. It’s about half used and I have had it for around 12 years. I remember buying it for a decorator! It would have solved Mr JG’s difficulty above, but actually we rarely use it as the bags are flimsy and don’t have tied handles.
Just lately I’ve been lining my bin with those charity collection bags that seem to come through the door with over optimistic regularity. I never use any of them to donate, even if I recognise the name of the charity as I prefer to take my stuff directly to the Oxfam shop.

I know that in Ireland when the charge for plastic bags was introduced, one of the criticisms was that people now had to buy bin liners, which was costing them money and defeated the idea of cutting down on carrier bags.

Mr JG and I have also had some discussion on my innovation of just emptying the waste paper baskets into the dustbin, not into a carrier bag first. My argument is that it is all dry rubbish and the bin has a lid. We don’t need a bag. We only occasionally use a liner in the wheelie bin. The bin is attached to the dustcart fr emptying so it is not a problem. (Sometimes, our small number of bags are lifted out by the dustmen and put in a neighbours bin)

We've been using Ocado quite a bit recently and I return the bags to them for recycling. I am a little critical on the number of bags they use - sometimes one or two items in a bag. but I had to complain recently because so many items were crammed into one bag, my shopping got squashed. You can't win!

I'm not sure whether all the bags that fruit arrives in can be recycled. The council's leaflet only shows carrier bags. More research needed there.

I am interested - what do you all do? Do you use plastic bags to line bins? Do you refuse carriers?


Last edited by Jaded Green on 15th March 2012, 1:41 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : typos. I'm terrible)
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Post by Chilli-head on 15th March 2012, 12:09 pm

Before bin liners - bins didn't need lining ! You put the rubbish straight in, and washed it out when it had been emptied into the large, heavy brown paper refuse sack. The binmen (you could use plain speaking in those days) would collect said sack once a week - and they'd come and find it, no need to put it out in the street the night before ! Those were the days.

What do we do ? Mrs C-H uses bought bin liners; the supermarket bags usually have holes in and so leak into the bottom of the bin meaning you have to wash it out anyway. I use charity bags(*) for lining the compost bin. Never seem to run short of them Rolling Eyes

(*) Most of these bags come from organisations who give so little of the value to charity that "charity bag" is almost a misnomer.
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Post by freebird on 15th March 2012, 1:33 pm

I do use a liner in my kitchen bin, but am FAR too miserly to pay for one! I use either degradable supermarket carrier bags (although I don't often have these), but mainly use council-provided bags that are meant for use in our food recycling bins. They are made from potato starch, and aren't terribly strong, but are adequate.

I reluctantly use a large liner in my outside wheelie bin. The binmen sometimes collect the contents by hand rather than bring their vehicle onto the main road, which means stopping on a red route. I don't think it fair that they should have to pick individual bags or bits of rubbish out my bin - well actually they probably wouldn't empty it at all.

Regarding the bags that fruit or vegetables are packed in, they always get at least a second use in my home. They are fine for wrapping stuff for short term freezer storage, or keeping a packed lunch together. Pity about the holes, or they could finally be used as dog poo bags!
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Post by polgara on 15th March 2012, 5:16 pm

I use blackbags, council orders for the landfill stuff, & the odd carrierbags for the veggie bin. Recycle goes straight into the wheelie.

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] Enjoy every second of your life, because time races by so much quicker than you think...

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Post by Dandelion on 15th March 2012, 7:38 pm

We don't have a wheelie bin as the council decided our road was unsuitable for them (but they didn't say why!!) So we have black bags which are collected every week, and don't need to wrap the rubbish inside in other bags. I do line the kitchen bin (all those bags from mysterious charities we've never heard of before!), and save bags from fruit and veg to line the little bin in the bathroom for disposing of sanitary waste. (Am I allowed to say that???)

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Post by Jaded Green on 15th March 2012, 10:05 pm

You are allowed to say that Dandelion. I typed a post earlier that didn't somehow make it through to say that I had brought home some bags that my parents' daily newspaper arrives in for that very purpose.
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Post by Jaded Green on 20th March 2012, 7:43 pm

A really interesting article on plastic bags.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17027990
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Post by Dandelion on 20th March 2012, 9:10 pm

Well done JG - I saw that article in passing but didn't get round to putting the link on. I thought it was interesting when they compared the carbon footprint of plastic carriers with long life bags - I didn't know whether they were referring to any kind of long life bag, because I would have thought that a jute bag would have been a much better prospect than a plastic carrier any day, especially when you consider the damage done to marine life andthe ocean itself.

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

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Post by Jaded Green on 20th March 2012, 9:26 pm

And thank you to Freebird who has also posted this link.

Resistant though I am to carrier bags every time I shop, we can't get rid of them all together. And they have their place. I often get my clothes in Marks and Spencers put in my cloth bag. Then if I take them back, I wonder if the next person to buy it will mind that it spent a few days in my bag that held various other things. Mr JG was surprised that I put the knitting wool I bought him into my bag. And I'm the fussy one about germs!

But for storage, a plastic bag can be useful. I have quite a lot of stuff in my loft wrapped in transparent plastic bags. They need to be wrapped up to keep clean, but it is really useful to be able to see what's what.

I do agree about contaminating food, but I would always use a bag that had carried meat as a rubbish bag next.
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Post by freebird on 30th October 2013, 8:03 am

Well, all you people who contributed to this thread last year had better watch out! I found this on the internet news this morning:

In the past few years shoppers have been encouraged to switch their disposable plastic bags for so-called "bags for life" - in order to help the environment.

But health experts have now warned that using the same bag to carry raw meat and soil-covered vegetables increases the risk of food poisoning.

Hugh Pennington, emeritus professor of bacteriology at Aberdeen University, warned that even meat which is wrapped in plastic could harbour harmful bugs.

The professor told BBC Radio 5 live's Drive: "Washing the bag is not a very good idea - you can't be certain you've got rid of all the bugs. For any bag that's has raw meat in it, I would recommend that bag is disposed of."


Oh, for goodness sake!
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Post by Chilli-head on 30th October 2013, 11:54 am

freebird wrote:
But health experts have now warned that using the same bag to carry raw meat and soil-covered vegetables increases the risk of food poisoning.
Hands up anyone who has seen soil covered vegetables in a supermarket ?

It is amazing that the apple I ate straight from the tree the other day did not kill me. Might have caught bird flu from it. I must be more careful in future Rolling Eyes 

No, I'm not terribly worried by the bacteria having a party in my bag for life. I do wonder how many carrier bags I need to not use before the energy and materials used in making the bag for life is saved though.
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Post by Ploshkin on 30th October 2013, 2:54 pm

I do despair! If all we read is to be believed I should have poisoned myself many times over by now.
I always liked the American style brown paper sacks that a couple of supermarkets used to have in the 80s. I would reuse them countless times & they would end their days in the compost bin.
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Post by Dandelion on 30th October 2013, 3:07 pm

I reuse shopping bags all the time. The last time I had a tummy bug was ten years ago, and that was because I was stupid enough to eat some left over fish fingers which had been sitting in a hot kitchen. I do try to be careful with meat - what is to stop people using a distinctive bag just for meat?

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Post by Jaded Green on 30th October 2013, 3:23 pm

I saw tht article too and was interested by it. A 25% rise in food poisoning cases in San Francisco?

As CH says, when did you last see soil on vegetables in a supermarket?

I use a bit of common sense with my bags - how stupid do they think we are? I do tend to take one of those small vegetable bags to put a chicken in. (We don't often buy chicken) And I may reuse a plastic carrier bag to take raw meat home and then re-use it again as a bin liner. But on the whole most stuff is extremely well wrapped.

I like the American style brown sacks too.

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Post by Dandelion on 30th October 2013, 7:25 pm

Tesco have started to supply small brown sacks to put onions in, which are a huge improvement on plastic bags. I keep meaning to write and say well done (so that I can earn the right to moan when things aren't so good!!)

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

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Post by Chilli-head on 24th March 2015, 7:53 pm

I know this is an old thread, but I think I sense a change going on here.

It used to be that disposable carrier bags could be reused a fair few times for various things.  Very useful for dirty boots, wet gear etc when camping. But I noticed last weekend that the carrier bags I get now can scarcely survive the one use intact, let alone be reused !

There is of course the bag for life, but these need to be reused a lot of times to be more eco-friendly than the disposables.  I'm sure the supermarkets love them because they can charge for them.  I could be being cynical,  but it seems typical of what happens when a good idea goes mainstream,  and falls into the hands of people who are more concerned about "meeting their customers' expectations" and not the original ethos.
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Post by Ploshkin on 25th March 2015, 12:13 pm

Like so many things these days I don't know how much thinner they can get.  I've had vegetables fall straight through the bottom of bags in the supermarket and land on my feet.  I must say, the Welsh have really embraced the 'no bag' law.  You have to ask for and pay for even the flimsy bags but they make you  feel as if you are asking for the moon on a stick.  It has meant that the supermarkets have started leaving out cardboard boxes again which then get re used (here) for sickly lambs, collecting swarms of bees, the next lot of shopping and finally end up on the compost heap.
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Post by Dandelion on 25th March 2015, 5:36 pm

That sounds like a good arrangement! Our supermarkets here stopped saving cardboard boxes for a while because of the 'fire hazard', but somehow the hazard must have been dealt with, because we can get them again!!

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Post by FloBear on 25th March 2015, 6:35 pm

Agree that plastic bags could not get much thinner. Even the supposed 'Bags for Life' have got thinner. I know because mine last a very long time! The sooner bags are charged for the better. Will also be glad if cardboard boxes are readily available again, hasn't happened here yet. Not that I have lambs or swarms to provide for!
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Post by Chilli-head on 24th July 2015, 10:29 am

Looks like charging for bags has had a big effect in Scotland:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-33644662

But perhaps signs that after initial reaction, the Welsh are letting things slip a bit back:

Wales saw a 5.2% increase last year, but the number of bags handed out in Wales has fallen by 78.2% since 2010, the figures showed.

But the gobsmacking statistic has to be this one:

in England, the number of single-use bags from supermarkets rose from 7.4 billion in 2013 to just over 7.6 billion last year

No, not the increase. The 7.6 billion. That's about 133 per year for every man, woman and child. We have not done very well at reducing our use ! What do people do with them ?
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Post by Dandelion on 24th July 2015, 7:33 pm

I think they bin them - that's what I have seen some family members do. One issue is that these single use bags have become smaller and thinner, so are less useful for re-using. Our nearest supermarket has a recycling bin for plastic carriers, but you have to be quite organised to remember to take all your old ones back. It will be interesting to see if the new charge changes people's behaviour. I must admit, if I was going to pay for a carrier I would want it to be larger and stronger than the current ones are.

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Post by freebird on 25th July 2015, 8:51 am

I nearly always take my own bags for shopping, but do use supermarket carriers as bin liners. If they are giving them out free, I can't see the point in paying for bin liners. But whatever plastic bags find their way into this house, they don't leave without being put to work until they die of exhaustion!
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Post by Dandelion on 26th July 2015, 4:40 pm

I've got caught out once or twice by saving the bags which decompose. It's a bit frustrating when you put a load of things in a carrier bag, only to watch it go to shreds as you pick it up! I'm glad these kinds of bag exists though.

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Post by Jaded Green on 4th September 2015, 1:50 pm

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Post by Dandelion on 5th September 2015, 3:18 pm

I was reading in the paper this morning that some larger stores are going to be charging for carriers soon. I wonder how this will work out? I think we've got used to taking reusable carriers out for grocery shopping, but I wonder whether people will start to think 'Ooh, I might get the dress of my dreams today - better take that extra large carrier with me!'


Last edited by Dandelion on 5th September 2015, 10:14 pm; edited 1 time in total

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

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