Pay for your bag 塑料袋即将收费

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Image caption New bags will cost a minimum of 5p

Vocabulary: environment 词汇: 环境

Do you re-use plastic bags? If you don't, you're not alone. And so to reduce waste and protect the environment, the UK authorities have decided to hit shoppers where it hurts the most: their pockets!

A mandatory carrier bag charge has been introduced in Scotland. Shoppers who want a new bag will have to pay a minimum of 5p (5 jiao).

The Scottish government has estimated that 800 million single-use bags are given out by supermarkets every year. And where do they go? Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead says: "Huge numbers of these bags end up as litter, clogging up our seas and natural habitats, affecting many sorts of wildlife and marine species in particular."

Mr Lochhead wants people to stop and think about whether they really need another bag. He says: "Alternatives like bags-for-life are easy to get and are much more sustainable."

The charge isn't a tax so the money collected doesn't go into the public coffers. Some retailers have said they'll donate it to good causes - some of them to preserve the environment.

Scotland is the third part of the UK to introduce the charge. Wales did it in 2011 and bag use there has since fallen by 79%. In Northern Ireland the drop was 72% after they introduced the charge there last year. In 2015, it will be England's turn to ask shoppers to pay for their bags. Only smaller retailers will be exempt.

But some hope that bag use can fall even further. According to Lang Banks, director of the World Wildlife Fund in Scotland, Denmark has the lowest bag use in Europe. The statistics are impressive: only four plastic bags per person per year.

Many people are used to carrying an old plastic bag with them when they go out, just in case they decide to buy something.

What about you: do you think paying for plastic bags is a good idea?