Plastic – not so fantastic!

This article first appeared in the Highgate and Muswell Hill Flier

I’m throwing down the gauntlet to Highgate and Muswell Hill! After all – we don’t want Crouch End showing us up – do we?

You may have heard about the village of Modbury where the use of plastic bags has been eradicated. This village’s 43 traders, spurred by the need to tackle the environmental mess we have got ourselves into, all decided to do away with a real scourge of the environment – plastic bags. They have converted to corn starch paper, cotton or cloth – all sorts – but not plastic.

Now, Crouch End – with Budgens leading the charge – is on its way to doing a Modbury. Budgens has got a group of traders together to first cut use of plastic bags and is campaigning and on the path to then one day eradicate plastic bags. As well as encouraging shoppers to purchase a ‘bag for life’ (which is a special non-plastic bag) Budgens launched a Pennies for Plastic Appeal earlier this year in a bid to change customers’ shopping habits and cut the use of plastic bags. For every bag a customer reuses, the shop donates one penny towards building a theatre stage for a local school.

I am totally supporting this campaign, and additionally I have written to all the supermarkets in Hornsey & Wood Green to also ask that they provide a recycling bin near the exits so people can discard the woefully excessive packaging there and then. The manufacturers also need to stop the excess at source!

It takes a whole lot of effort to do what Modbury did. But if a whole village can be plastic bagless – so can we in both Highgate and Muswell Hill!

This is partly about how shops behave, But we individuals have to change our habits too if we are to make progress. If we want our local stores not to dish out plastic bags left, right and centre – then we have to remember to take our own bag with us – or be prepared to pay for a re-usable bag at checkout.

Like every real change we make in our lives – it has to start somewhere. I remember when I started recycling. At first I would still throw some recyclable stuff in the bin – well it’s only a bit of cardboard or paper I would think to myself. That won’t make much difference. But now, a few years on, if I accidentally throw a bit of cardboard in the bin – I can’t leave it there. I now feel so guilty – I go back and take it out and put it in the recycling.

That’s what happens in the end. The habit of good behaviour becomes the norm – and that’s where I have got to get to with plastic bags. That will have to be my New Year resolution!

(c) Lynne Featherstone, 2007