This morning I was sent a great article from the BBC Magazine. It outlined that many environmental decisions are not as clear cut as one might think. For example, while most single use plastic (shopping) bags do not biodegrade, a reusable cotton bag uses much more carbon in its manufacture and transportation. Have a read in full if you get time, otherwise here are 5 really interesting things that I took away from it:
- In the EU, more than four billion bags are thrown away each year.
- A handful of countries have banned plastic bags altogether, including Rwanda, Somalia and Tanzania. (a reader located in Rwanda commented below, that it was the cleanest city that they had ever seen)
- Ireland introduced a charge of 15 euro cents (12p, 20 US cents) per bag in March 2002, which led to a 95% reduction in plastic bag litter.
- if a plastic bag is used just once, then a paper bag must be used three times to compensate for the larger amount of carbon used in manufacturing and transporting it, a plastic “bag for life” must be used four times, and a cotton bag must be used 131 times.
- 800,000 tonnes of so-called single-use plastic bags are used in the European Union per year, and only 6% were recycled.
At Beetlebox we have had to make tough decisions as well. The material used in our moving boxes could be recycled or virgin, but there are important durability tradeoffs. Virgin plastic will last 30-40% longer in terms of reuses, so is it better to use recycled material and replace the boxes more often, or use virgin material, and get more uses out of each box? Its a tricky one.