Zero Waste Week starts 5 September. The theme this year is ‘Reducing waste away from home'. You can read more about the campaign here.
One of the obvious ways to reduce waste away from home is to use a reusable carrier bag. I have several canvas carrier bags, two in my daytime handbag, one in my evening handbag, one in my rucksack, a couple that hang on doors around the flat (so there's no excuse to not be able to find a carrier bag if we're just popping to the shops), one I use for recycling and one I use to carry my conservation work materials in. All these bags are well used and I've had most of them for years.
I noticed at the Edinburgh International Book festival that the Book Festival bookshop was giving out canvas carrier bags with purchases. As indeed were the Guardian newspaper and the Scotsman newspaper. I wonder how many people picked up their free carrier bags from all three outlets? (I didn't pick up any by the way). Canvas carrier bags are the ideal carrier bags, but to be effective in reducing waste, they need to be reused. It takes more energy to make canvas carrier bags than it does to make plastic carrier bags, I think you need to use a canvas carrier 50 times before you reduce your carbon footprint compared to using a plastic bag (though of course, by using a canvas bag you reduce the amount of plastic waste that damages wildlife). Using a canvas bag 50 times is easy, but not if you have more than just a few. So when we think of canvas bags we need to be think re-use. If you already have a bag, don't automatically take the free carrier bag offered to you, whether its plastic or canvas. That goes for outlets that sell or give out canvas bags too. Please, if the customer has already got a bag, they don't need an extra carrier bag, whether it's plastic or canvas. Specially if all they've bought is a very slim poetry chapbook that can slip into a handbag.