Monday, 5 October 2015

Bilbo Baggins Reaches Bag End

The Hobbit: An Unexpected JourneyHere is Martin Freeman with a bag on his back. We have, at last, come to a sort of Bag End in England- much later than the rest of the UK, and many other countries round the world. The age of automatic free carrier bags is over [I for one shout hallelujah!]


As of today, you won’t be given a plastic carrier bag when you shop [except under certain conditions – see below] You’ll be offered the chance to buy one for 5p [money goes to the retailers- but most are declaring their intent to pass it on to charity] This is to help rid the world of so much waste plastic. Bangladesh started this trend in 2002, because discarded bags were blocking drains. When Wales introduced this system, there was a 71% drop in the use of new bags in one year. It is a good thing all round, I think. BUT you will have to remember to take your own alternatives. Here’s some of mine


For humungous grocery shopping trips, I take my Sainsbury’s boxes. For smaller trips, my cotton bags [all freebies] I usually keep a nylon one [pink IKEA or bizarre Nutella jar] in my handbag – these pack neatly into their own little pouch. Tesco gave me a bag for life on Friday for nothing!

shopping bags

For some purchases – such as live goldfish, raw salmon,  loose pumpkin seeds and axes without a case – you will still be given a bag. Full details are on the government website here. But be careful! If you go into the supermarket and purchase a piece of cod, a lump of root ginger, some loose potatoes, and a ‘living’ pot of basil in soil, you’ll get a free bag – BUT if you buy a bar of chocolate and drop that in the carrier too, you will incur a charge!

shopping trolley trio

Our great-grandmothers never had plastic bags – just baskets, fabric or string bags, and trolleys. I had very little sympathy for the people behind me in the queue last week, who were moaning about the impending charge.


We have no excuse for using and then throwing away all these bags – they are clogging the landfill sites and poisoning our oceans.

How do you carry your shopping home?


  1. I've been using my own bags for years but I forget when I nip in to the little shop. Now I need to make changes and keep my bags in the car al the time.

  2. I have a collection of big 'bags for life' saved from French supermarkets. Why we dont just stop plastic and go over to paper beats me. I know there would be initial costs but the end result would be greener. I dont think a 5p charge will deter everyone from buying the toxic plastic.

  3. There have been no free bags in France for many years. When we shop there we always remember to take our bags. In the UK we often forget. QED.
    People will soon get used to it. Those sturdy bags the supermarket sell for around 30-50p are great value. Excellent for carrying logs. Cheaper and stronger than Christmas sacks for presents.

  4. I'm glad too! Is it just supermarkets or all shops? I have a variety of reusable bags.x

  5. I heard that it is only large retailers who have to charge for plastic bags in England - crazy!

  6. We have not used shop bags for years. Many years ago I bought 4 large bags from Lakeland, they are great, fit in the boot of the car and, unless we do an extra large shop, they take everything I buy. I also have two bags that came from Tesco which we also keep in the boot of the car in case we do a small shop for something when out visiting etc.

  7. We also keep bags in the car but recently I've taken to forgetting them! It's very annoying because I've been using my own bags for donkey's years and endured a fair few "spot the loony/greeny" comments and looks. Now, when I have forgotten them, I've got tuts from a few Johnny-come-latelies to the re-useable bags scene! I'm glad I now HAVE to remember them!

  8. I can't understand why they didn't introduce this to the whole of the UK at the same time. We've had plenty of practise to remember to take our bags with us for a while now. The only time I did mind paying up a 5p was when I bought some postcards in a gallery shop and they tried to charge me for the paper bag! Talk about capitalising on their customers! It feels good to know we're all helping to keep our oceans free of plastic in our own little ways.

  9. Woo hoo! Great news. We are slowly training ourselves to bring the cloth bag(s) into the store ... even when they're in the car we often forget them. Otherwise we ask for a paper bag. Here in the States California has banned plastic grocery bags. I hope it spreads across the nation.

    What about plastic garbage bags (for lining the rubbish bin)? Any hope of outlawing those?

  10. Plastic bags are banned in my city; I keep a few canvas tote bags in the car. Paper bags are 10 cents each.

  11. I have to confess that since mum had her crisis, Mr T£$^o has been bringing my shopping to the door. I order it without bags, but they invariably come. Well done, England, though; the moaners soon got used to it here.


Always glad to hear from you - thanks for stopping by!
I am blocking anonymous comments now, due to excessive spam!