English Shoppers Will Finally Start Paying for Plastic Bags

It’s about time.

A plastic bag in London. Image via Flickr user Julian Stallabrass (cc).

It’s official: The tides are turning against plastic bags. Next Monday, English shoppers will be charged 5p (or roughly 10 U.S. cents) for any single-use plastic bag.

The 5p charge will be issued by the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs, and will apply to any large businesses with more than 250 employees. Though this leaves many small and medium-sized shops exempt from the charge, it’s a big improvement for England, where plastic bag use has been increasing for five years running. According to the WRAP, 7.6 billion single-use plastic bags were issued by English supermarkets in 2014. That’s 140 bags person in a single year—combined, all those bags would weigh 61,000 tons.

Many in England eagerly awaited some kind of plastic bag reduction. Image via Twitter user Dr Andrew Furber, Director of Public Health at Wakefield Council in Leeds, Yorkshire.

To put those numbers in context, the Earth Policy Institute (EPI) has said that more than a trillion plastic bags are used each year worldwide—or 2 million every minute. Last year, the European Union voted to reduce plastic bag use by 80 percent by 2019, though the British government is one of the last in both the EU and the United Kingdom to enforce plastic bag reduction in any capacity. EPI also reports that a memo on the EU’s “proposal noted that ‘plastic bags have been found in stomachs of several endangered marine species,’ including various turtles and porpoises, and 94 percent of North Sea birds.”

The charge is part of the United Kingdom’s plan to move to a “zero waste economy.” Unusually, the charge is not a tax—retailers will be given the opportunity to donate the proceeds to a cause of their choice. Not a bad model, though it will be interesting to see if a ban will one day be feasible there. In July, Hawaii became the first U.S. state to ban plastic bags, following in the footsteps of major American cities like San Francisco and a slew of African countries, including Rwanda, where non-biodegradable polythene bags have been illegal since 2008.

via Honor Africans / Twitter

The problem with American Sign Language (ASL) is that over 500,000 people in the U.S. use it, but the country has over 330 million people.

So for those with hearing loss, the chances of coming into contact with someone who uses the language are rare. Especially outside of the deaf community.

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Looking back, the year 1995 seems like such an innocent time. America was in the midst of its longest streak of peace and prosperity. September 11, 2001 was six years away, and the internet didn't seem like much more than a passing fad.

Twenty-four years ago, 18 million U.S. homes had modem-equipped computers, 7 million more than the year before. Most logged in through America Online where they got their email or communicated with random strangers in chat rooms.

According to a Pew Research study that year, only 32% of those who go online say they would miss it "a lot" if no longer available.

Imagine what those poll numbers would look like if the question was asked today.

RELATED: Bill and Melinda Gates had a surprising answer when asked about a 70 percent tax on the wealthiest Americans

"Few see online activities as essential to them, and no single online feature, with the exception of E-Mail, is used with any regularity," the Pew article said. "Consumers have yet to begin purchasing goods and services online, and there is little indication that online news features are changing traditional news consumption patterns."

"Late Night" host David Letterman had Microsoft founder and, at that time the richest man in the world, on his show for an interview in '95 to discuss the "the big new thing."

During the interview Letterman chided Gates about the usefulness of the new technology, comparing it to radio and tape recorders.

Gates seems excited by the internet because it will soon allow people to listen to a baseball game on their computer. To which Letterman smugly replies, "Does radio ring a bell?" to laughter from the crowd.

But Gates presses Letterman saying that the new technology allows you to listen to the game "whenever you want," to which Letterman responds, "Do tape recorders ring a bell?"

Gates then tells Letterman he can keep up with the latest in his favorite hobbies such as cigar smoking or race cars through the internet. Letterman shuts him down saying that he reads about his interests in magazines.

RELATED: Bill Gates has five books he thinks you should read this summer.

The discussion ends with the two laughing over meeting like-minded people in "troubled loner chat room on the internet."

The clip brings to mind a 1994 segment on "The Today Show" where host Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric have a similar discussion.

"What is internet anyway?" an exasperated Gumball asks. "What do you write to it like mail?"

"It's a computer billboard but it's nationwide and it's several universities all joined together and it's getting bigger and bigger all the time," a producer explains from off-stage.

Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

The future generations will have to live on this Earth for years to come, and, not surprisingly, they're very concerned about the fate of our planet. We've seen a rise in youth activists, such as Greta Thunberg, who are raising awareness for climate change. A recent survey indicates that those efforts are working, as more and more Americans (especially young Americans) feel concerned about climate change.

A new CBS News poll found that 70% of Americans between 18 and 29 feel climate change is a crisis or a serious problem, while 58% of Americans over the age of 65 share those beliefs. Additionally, younger generations are more likely to feel like it's their personal responsibility to address climate change, as well as think that transitioning to 100% renewable energy is viable. Overall, 25% of Americans feel that climate change is a "crisis," and 35% feel it is a "serious problem." 10% of Americans said they think climate change is a minor problem, and 16% of Americans feel it is not a problem that worries them.

The poll found that concern for the environment isn't a partisan issue – or at least when it comes to younger generations. Two-thirds of Republicans under the age of 45 feel that addressing climate change is their duty, sentiments shared by only 38% of Republicans over the age of 45.

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