Can I change the world one carrier bag at a time? Well, I can try.
The environment has taken a bit of a pasting recently. The news is not good for bees (and therefore us) – although yesterday’s vote in the EU may help - the jury's out on that. Climate change is apparently affecting the cuddly Koalas down under and the pandas in Edinburgh zoo seemed reluctant to get frisky to help the survival of their own species. Depressing stuff.
So where are the positives? In related news, I went to three of the M&S Big Beach & Waterway Clean Up events (Nottingham & Beeston Canal, the Birmingham Main Line and the Grand Union Canal in Watford) last week. Over 1,000 M&S shop workers joined us at 42 locations to help spruce up the waterways. The weather was mixed (freezing cold in Nottingham on Monday, drizzly in Birmingham on Wednesday and sunny in Watford on Thursday) but if the laughter was anything to go by, the enthusiastic M&S teams really enjoyed their day out on their local canals.
As part of M&S's Plan A, and in an effort to restrict their proliferation, customers are now charged 5p for a carrier bag. As someone who has, on the odd occasion, only popped in for a few things in a rush and left my hessian shopping bag at home, I used to resent this charge*. That is until I joined the #beachclean. The eyesore that plastic bags create as they hang from trees, hedges and power lines or float along the canal, threatening birds and fish and other wildlife is plain to see.
I resolved there and then to kick the habit. One bag at a time.
*(and I have since learned that the profit goes towards environmental projects)
Liz Waddington is editor of The Source, the Canal & River Trust’s monthly staff newspaper. She has been in love with canals and their industrial heritage since her first holiday on the Grand Union Canal when she was 10 years old. Liz likes nothing more than getting out and meeting her colleagues on the cut.See more blogs from Liz Waddington