Free bags full...?

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We now have had over six months to get used to the new plastic bag charge. So how is it going?

We now have had over six months to get used to the new regulations of retailers charging for plastic bags.  In that time, bag use has plummeted with many supermarkets claiming a reduction of around 80% in bags required.  Consumers are getting used to carrying their own shopping bags to use or buying the more robust 'bag for life' in cases of emergency.  The result?  Charities are benefiting and the environment has a chance of less pollution from discarded bags.  This week, New York may be planning to followed suit by levying a 5 cent charge per plastic bag on its retailers, which has somewhat spoiled the romantic illusion I had of paper groceries bags in the Big Apple as per many a Hollywood movie.

But, as far as the UK is concerned, its all good so far. However, there have also been some interesting side effects - that of 'consumers behaving badly' and pinching shopping baskets and even supermarket trollies to bring home their goods. Some retailers have also found some creative ways to skirt around the plastic bag issue, for example, cutting off the handles.  A bag without handles is not chargeable. There are also exemptions to the plastic bag rule which you can read about HERE as not every retailer or business has to charge for plastic bags.  This includes not having to charge for bags for promotional items - Key2 Group has its own branded plastic carrier for brochures and promotional giveaways.  

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You don't have to charge for bags holding live goldfish...which is somewhat random.  You can also expect a free plastic bag for uncooked fish, poultry or meat and for goods with soil, such as potatoes. It will be interesting to see what response you get at the checkout when you ask for a bag for this purpose though.  Will you get charged anyway - the onus will now be on the cashier to know the rules and regulations inside-out.

The wastage and environmental concerns about these bags has made them public enemy no 1 however there are plenty of novel uses for them should you find you have hoarded lots from former free bag days.  These include paint tray liners, doggy-doo pick up bags, muddy wellies carrier, hair-dying bonnet, frost protectors for plants, sandwich/lunch bag, paint brush cover, school book covers, toddler paint coverall, scrunch up for a paint effect pad and numerous other uses.  Or, more obviously, simply reuse for carrying groceries again?