Thursday, 3 September 2015

A stitch in time saves loads of money

Hello. This post is for all shoppers in England. Are you ready for the new carrier bag charge that will come in on October 5th? All retailers who have more than 250 employees must charge a minimum of 5p for every single use plastic carrier bag they hand over to a customer. So, if you don't want to pay for your bags what are the options? 
You can purchase a bag for life, they are plastic and around 10p. When they are worn out you take them back to the shop and they exchange it for a new one free of charge. You can buy thick heavy duty bags that supermarkets sell from around £1 and upwards, or you can make your own, like these. I ran them up in a couple of hours on the machine this afternoon. They are made from heavy blackout curtain fabric which I got from the Scrapstore. You could use any curtain fabric you have.   
If you want to have a go, here are the links to a couple of pages I wrote about how to make them.
Make your own shopping bag, from October 2013.
Shopping bags and food, from February 2015

If anyone wants to know more about the new rules, here is an article on the web site.

There's only a month to go, but you can start preparing now. It's a good idea to get into the habit of putting your shopping bags back in the car as soon as you have emptied them, that way you won't forget them next time you need them. If you don't go shopping by car, maybe a bus, or bicycle, or walk, find a place to keep your bags close to the front door, so you remember to pick them up before you go. Have you got a cupboard or a shelf, or hang them on the coat rack by the handles. What you could also do is stick a post it note on the inside of your front door to remind you to take them, until you get into the routine of always picking them up before you leave.

You might want to have a few different types of bags for different types of shopping. If you take a handbag to work you could have a thin nylon bag which folds up very small and fits into your handbag. You could have different sizes of bags, the smaller ones fitting inside the largest bag so you only have one to carry to the shop. A mesh type bag would be useful to carry your veg in then if it has any dirt on it won't contaminate any of your other shopping. You might need a smaller box type bag which is very strong to take the weight of the tinned food. Or a large lightweight bag for the cereal boxes and bread.

Start collecting your bags now so you are ready, and get in the habit of always taking them with you. Then you will never be caught out and have to pay for carrier bags.

Thanks for popping in. Toodle pip


  1. Thank you, I didn't know about the carrier bag charge. I do try to remember to take bags with me when I go out, and have one of those fold up nylon bags in my handbag. If I have to buy a bag I make sure its the "bag for life" type, as yet I haven't managed to wear out any of these!

  2. A word of caution you also want to be able to laundry your shopping bags on a regular bases. There is plenty of research that says dirty reusable shopping bags harbor some pretty nasty bacteria. Don't make yourself or your loved ones sick.

  3. Just had a look on the website.....What a load of c..p. There's going to be some very confused shop staff. Don't care anyway I always take my own bags or my trolley. Who dreams these schemes up. Probably the same people who thought it was a good idea to have thousands of plastic bins on the streets! Oh and they've stuck a sticker on my blue bin last week , they've changed their minds over what type of plastic can go in it....! ? If I get it wrong ...they won't empty it. So it says. The mind boggles, ha ha. By the way they are really nice bags that you have just made. My "Ilona" bag is going strong and has been admired. Its one Janet made for you.

  4. Thank you for the update. I wasn't aware either. I have quite a few bags for life but always forget to take them. Xx

  5. I've been using my own shoppers for years. I crocheted them out of heavy rug yarn, and they stretch to accommodate practically anything, are strong, and when they're empty take up no space at all. I do have to remember to bring them with me to the shop, you're right about that, some training needed! the only problem I've had is when clerks say oh they're too pretty to put food straight in, let me use plastic to protect your bags!! I explain that they're totally washable and indestructible, just use them. The yarn I got free of charge, from a freecycler, too.

  6. I am in the U.S., but I read the link you posted about the new rules in England because I was curious. Some cities here have similar bag laws but most areas do not.

    I carry my own bags for most shopping. At Aldi in the U.S. you must have your own bag or pay to buy one.

    I was curious about the very thin plastic bags that most stores in the U.S. give free (even Aldi) for produce. I don't see them mentioned in the UK link as exempt so either there will be a charge or perhaps they are not common in the UK.

    I must admit that I would miss the thin plastic produce bags because I use them when scooping the litter box.

    1. I use those thin bags too. I wrap meat for the freezer in them before freezing. When I use the meat the bag then becomes a small garbage bag.

  7. I think 5p is way too cheap to charge for needs to be more. I was at the shops the other day for groceries and some people take 8 or 10 bags and would happily hand over 50 p without thinking....

  8. still have the bag you sent me. It's wearing well. And if I can ever figure out how to send a picture I'll do that. (Probably should mail one. You would have had it by now.) Maggie from Florida

  9. Here in Los Angeles County, USA, that rule has been in effect for over a year but, bizarrely, it only applies to grocers and not to big box stores. I have really gotten in the habit of taking bags with me when I shop BUT I have a special needs child who still uses pull-ups at night and has to wrap her soiled ones in the morning and I have found reusing old shopping bags great for that. Sometimes, I shop in other counties for the added bonus of getting plastic bags for her. I am really torn on the issue from an environmental and practical perspective.

  10. I wish SO MUCH that the charge for plastic bags would become law across the US.
    My collection of canvas bags - and of course, my Ilona Designer Special! - gets a workout at the grocery store every week or so, and as soon as I get home and empty them, I fold all the canvas bags inside the one insulated bag I bought to use for frozen foods. Then I take them right back out to the car so I won't forget them next time...took me a while to get into that habit, but it's working now :)

  11. Our town got rid of the free plastic bags a few years ago. It was not long at all before we all got used to taking in our own bags. That is a splendid offer for the store to sell you a bag so cheaply and then replace it over and over again. JanF

  12. There has been a charge for plastic bags in Wales for some time yet I still see people filling up to 10 bags on a shopping trip. As I shop on Thursday I see the same ones every week. even at 5 bags a week that works out to £13 a year and you can bet that there will be top up shopping with more bags. I could eat well for a week on that. Then of course the trees are decorated with shredded carrier bags once the wind blows. I make bags from curtains and take them to the local Library, they sell them for £1 and the money goes towards photocopying costs and other free perks for members.

  13. I don't use plastic bags which are so readily available from supermarkets - if I did I would look like a bag lady (no joke). I still have some plastic bags from the 1970's. I have a cloth bag - again from the 70's. For small things to carry, I put in my handbag. In my friend's car, we put stuff into a large cardboard box. I don't have food waste to put into my bin - if I did, it would be potato peelings - they are wrapped in newspaper that is got from my parents' one luxury of a Saturday newspaper. I hate to see plastic bags in the sea or caught in hedgerows etc. Lets hope that the charge will cut down on the use of these bags. Natalie

  14. Hi,Those sturdy,cheerful bags are so much nicer than the store reusable ones,I think-no logos.Nice work!.We have had to pay for plastic bags for several years here ,and they can now be recycled.I save any plastic ones for pooper scooping that I come across but use washable,reusable cloth bags for groceries etc. and have a large insulated bag for frozen items.The one given to me by you is special and I carry my water,snack,umbrella and sunhat in that when out.I wash and reuse some resealable bags that frozen berries and veggies also.We get free newspapers here and I reuse both the paper for firestarting,wrapping and plastic bags they come in for doggie doo on outings.Bye for now,D.

  15. I think there will always be a need for the cheap plastic carriers. When I take stuff to the charity shop I don't want to leave my nice home-made bag there. Either that, or I shall have to tip my "donations" out onto their floor and take my bag back home :-D
    The bags you gave me are still going strong. The orange one is my hairdresser bag. When I get there, I take my purse and diary out and place it on the floor. Her little dog then "hunts" inside the bag for the small treat he knows I bring with me every time!

  16. making your own is really simple and gives such a sense of satisfaction.

  17. I`m already using my own shopping bags for all my shopping needs, but find that the till ladies at Tesco will still ask me if I want a plastic carrier bag. I also shop with a trolley, so I shall never have to shed out for these
    carrier bags anymore.

  18. Yep, it's been the way in Wales for a while now and it's surprising how quickly you get used to always having a bag on you or in your handbag.

    All mine are stored in the boot of the car and put back there immediately after emptying.

    The bonus is that charities have made millions as most shops donate the money raised by the sale of plastic bags to a charity of their choosing. It's a win win situation in my opinion.

  19. In Scotland its now second nature just to take your own bags - it feels like shoplifting if you forget in a clothes shop and have to walk out with your stuff in your arms!and I know its only 5p but I begrudge it and dont need all that plastic. I have sewn loads of bags with their own pouches from the free patterns on Craftsy for all my handbags and have jute shoppers in my car ready.


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