According to the Government’s website, "In 2014 over 7.6 billion single-use bags were given to customers by major supermarkets in England”. That is an astronomical figure when you consider that’s more bags than there are people on this planet. They also say that figure was rising year on year despite the fact they estimated the average household already had 40 used bags sitting in their kitchen cupboards already. I think without meaning to we’ve become a ‘throw away’ society and here at Shared Earth, we believe in doing our bit to remedy this.
The government introduced the carrier bag levy last year and many supermarkets have reported up to an 80% cut in carrier bag use; this is phenomenal. Shared Earth introduced a carrier bag charge around 5 years prior to this and although we can’t claim an 80% reduction, we can claim a very positive swing towards not only a drastic cut in carrier bags being purchased but a noticeable rise in the amount of jute and cotton reusable bags being sold and we are over the moon about this.
We’re also over the moon about the fact we took the brave decision to charge 25p a bag. This might seem steep as it is above the industry standard of 5p but since we started charging first we’ve never felt the need to alter this; especially as our customers have supported the charge way before it became law. You get the odd person who still grumbles but the good thing about being a fair trade business is the majority of customers are like minded and have equal care and respect for the environment as we do and we are very grateful.
It also helps that Shared Earth over the years has donated monies raised from sales to various causes. We’ve donated money to a tree planting scheme, to an orphanage in India, to the Kashmiri flood victims and the Nepalese earthquake victims too (to name a few). We are very passionate about raising awareness of our own ecological issues as well as helping those in this world who need it.
We would love carrier bags to be a thing of the past. That’s the goal and that’s what we strive towards every day; especially when you take into the account the horror stories about plastic bags in the ocean that are maiming and killing our sea life. According to the ocean crusaders website, it can take from 20-1000 years for a plastic bag to break up (as in smaller pieces not necessarily breaking down completely) and it’s possible a single bag can be ingested in mistake of a jellyfish over and over and be the cause of death for many marine animals. They also believe there are 46,000 pieces of plastic per square mile of ocean which is unbelievable and quite frankly these statistics scare me. They also scared our MD and he took the brave decision to only offer paper bags in our store (with a small contingency of plastic bags purely for when it rains).