The disposable shopping bag’s moment has come – 5 October marks the introduction of a long-awaited bag tax in England, which should put a massive dent in the 8bn plastic bags a year dispensed by supermarkets. In Wales and Scotland, people have been living (in most cases very happily) without free plastic bags for some time.

To carry on polluting, it’ll cost you 5p per new bag, while online grocery delivery services will continue to infuriate by using loads of plastic bags and charging a flat fee.

If you want control, carry your own reusable bag and visit a bricks-and-mortar store. My advice is to invest in a designated “bag for life” or two. They are designed to last, are lower impact in terms of materials and will be your firm friends during the transition period.

I’m fond of jute as a fibre. It is fast growing, hardwearing and biodegradable. The more products we buy that are made from it, the more jute producers have an income (there are now Fairtrade standards for jute). It is estimated that there’s enough of this fibre to provide every person with two jute bags a year, so there’s no availability problem. The website supplies the big retailers and claims you’ll get three to four years’ service out of one of their bags.

The manufacturers of claim that each of their bags, made from a silk constructed from recycled plastic bottles, displaces 1,000 plastic bags. I can’t verify the statistic, but I can vouch for the fact that they fit into a purse.

And the upscale Ohyo bag, designed by Felix Conran (from £50), grows with your day. It starts off accommodating your tablet and then extends for groceries (

At the moment, flexible packaging, including plastic bags, frozen-food bags and pouches, makes up 556,000 tonnes of rubbish. Almost all of it ends up in landfill. This is our chance to eliminate some of that waste. The best plastic bag is the one that’s never made.

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