How many plastic bags do you use? Every year the average European uses 200 plastic bags, creating a giant mountain of waste. The bags end up in our rivers, oceans and are finally consumed by fish, birds and ourselves – not as bags, of course, but in the form of microplastics. Every year over 8 billion bags end up in the natural world. That’s a huge amount, and 7 million of those were only intended for one-off use. That’s disastrous for the environment and consequently also for our health.
It is often just too easy to use a plastic bag, whether you buy one or ask for one while shopping. But a better alternative is to take a reusable cotton bag with you. Fortunately the European Union is also aware of the huge amounts of pollution caused by the plastic bags, and it believes that the commercial use of plastic bags must be reined in. And we agree.
We are committed to a new way of shopping: bring your own bags, make bags more sustainable and use bags more often – that is the trend we should all embrace. Soon (as of 1 January 2016) free plastic bags at the checkout counter in supermarkets will be a thing of the past in the Netherlands. This fits in with the EU plan to cut back on plastic bags by 80% within five years. Furthermore, those plastic bags that are used must be more sustainable and more environmentally-friendly, like bags made of bioplastic or even from organic cotton. Research has shown that charging for the bags helps to reduce the number of plastic bags used. We shall have to wait and see which other measures will be introduced in the EU.