OUR MISSION is to persuade the UK government to ban, or introduce a realistic levy on, plastic bags.
OUR VISION is of a zero-waste UK, where plastic bags and other throwaway plastics are a thing of the past, leading the way to a zero-waste world.
WHAT WE DO
• Locally, Greener Upon Thames is a grassroots campaign to get rid of free plastic bags in the London boroughs of Richmond and Kingston, by street canvassing, collecting pledges from individuals and shops, amassing and disseminating information through our websites, newsletters and fliers, and distributing badges and long-life bags.
• Locally, we support the increasing number of stores and shops that have stopped giving away plastic bags.
• Locally, we work with our councils, universities, schools and green groups to spread the word.
• Nationally, we lobby the big chains to reduce plastic bag usage by charging for bags and offering good long-life alternatives. If a few responsible retailers like Holland & Barratt and Lush can manage without plastic bags, and others like Marks & Spencer and TK Maxx can charge for them, why can’t they all?
• Nationally, we support an annual Plastic-Bag-Free Day and we organise local events on that day.
• Nationally, we work with other UK groups to persuade government to introduce a ban or realistic levy, as other states have done. If they can do it, why can’t we?
• Nationally, we ask people to sign our petition asking the government for a ban or realistic levy (one that really would deter people from taking them).
• Individually, we carry our own shopping bags, and we say no, and explain why, when we’re offered plastic carrier bags. We also try to cut down on other plastic packaging and waste.
WHY WE DO IT
• Plastic bags cost us. We may not pay for them at source, but we pay through our council tax for councils to collect and dispose of them and for the street cleaners that pick up the litter they create. Plastics, including plastic bags, comprise between 10% and 14% of all waste, and councils have to pay for transportation and, now, landfill tax, which increases annually – so either our council tax will continue to increase or, as cutbacks bite, councils will have fewer resources to deal with plastic waste and we will have to live with even more unsightly litter.
• Plastic bags use a valuable resource for something completely unnecessary. Plastic production presently uses 4% of oil, which is imported and fast running out. We are facing an energy crisis, and as oil stocks decrease and become much harder to extract, we can’t afford to waste oil.
• Plastic bags are wasteful. They are used on average for only 12 to 20 minutes; they are rarely reused except as rubbish bags, so they end up in landfill; and they are not collected by local councils for recycling because it’s uneconomic to do so.
• Plastic bags damage the environment. Plastic takes 500 to 1000 years to disintegrate, a horrible legacy to leave our children and grandchildren, and in the meantime plastic bags create unsightly litter.
• Plastic bags damage marine life – and maybe even us. 80% of marine plastic debris originates on land. Plastic acts like a sponge for toxic chemicals, soaking up deadly compounds like PCBs and DDE (a breakdown product of the notorious insecticide DDT). Some plastic bags or plastic debris is ingested by marine animals and finds its way into the food chain.
• Plastic bags are a symptom of a throwaway society, perhaps not the biggest challenge facing humanity, but an important part of the mix and a way of getting people to think about waste and our effects on the environment.
• Voluntary reduction of plastic bags by the chain stores hasn’t worked. The big supermarkets didn’t meet the target of 50% reduction set by the government as an alternative to legislation. It seems that only compulsion will achieve substantial improvements.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
• SAY NO to that plastic bag
• Join our facebook page, follow this blog, find us on Twitter
• Tell all your friends, and come to our events
• Ask your MP how he or she is supporting the bag ban or levy