Re-use, re-cycle, re-think: Ten things to do once you’ve spent 5p on a plastic bag

Plastic carrier bags, Naomi Duffree, Kettle Mag
Written by Naomi

As you will have heard the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs are bringing in charges for plastic carrier bags in England. It is, according to the Gov.UK site, ‘part of the policy to reduce waste’ and will be enforced on 5/10/2015.


The rules

The minimum price will be 5p for a single use bag – it is great to know we can now buy something in England for 5p! To qualify it has to be plastic, new, have handles and be seventy microns thick or less. Seventy microns? I’m unsure the definition of a micron – which makes me feel a bit thick myself. (For all you clever folk, I now know it is another name for a micrometre.) If you run a small to medium business it is not compulsory to charge but you can do so voluntarily. However if you employ 250 or more full time employees you must charge if you sell or deliver in England.


Hilariously there is a list of ten items you can’t charge for, including live aquatic creatures in water. Thank goodness. I’d love to have been in that government department meeting when that was agreed…or in a shop where the customer refuses to pay and the water plus fish is handed over bagless.

So in honour of this new law here are ten things that you could re-use your bag for. After all you don’t want to be paying 5p for a one off experience. 

1) Lining your waste paper baskets. And if I may pass on a tip given to me by my wise old uncle, line your liners with them too!

2) Does your wellington boot have a hole in it? Put them over your sock before putting your foot in your boot. But ensure you have a bag with no  health and safety holes in it. #personalexperience.

3) Take them shopping. After all, 70 microns, they are built to carry, carry and carry on.

4) Away for the weekend? Need somewhere to put your dirty laundry? Sorted.

5) Short of a somewhere to practise your basket ball now you’ve signed up for the uni team? Cut a hole in the bottom of your bag and pin up on your door. Use screwed up paper balls, (more recycling, TICK) and take aim.

6) Who needs wrapping paper? Sellotape bags together to make a sheet and use accordingly. Cut off the handles and make a matching bow!

7) Going on a night out with light-weight mates? Dreading that taxi ride home? Take a couple of carrier bags. Doubled up they make a superb fold away sick bucket. (Remember the fold away bit is BEFORE use.)

8) Christmas decorations looking tired? Find your brightest bags and cut into strips. Tie into paper chains and hang in your room. Your mates  will be beyond jealous.

9) Any odd little holes in your skirting board that may contain mice? Roll up a bag or two that tightly fits the said hole and put in place. Yes, mice can chew through bags, so replace accordingly. If it’s any consolation I don’t think spiders can.

10) I’m sure I heard a statistic that each household has an average 40 bags in their collection. That’s £2.00 worth. You could always stand outside your local supermarket and flog them for 4p. After all, as one supermarket likes to say, “Every little helps”.