The National Botanic Gardens of Scotland are located at Edinburgh, Benmore, Logan and Dawyck

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh's mission is to explore and explain the world of plants


Every year in Britain we use a massive 8 billion plastic bags. Many of these end up in overflowing land fill sites or littering our streets. In an effort to reduce the environmental impact of plastic bags, the Botanics Shop at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh [RBGE] is the first retailer in Scotland to introduce the jute bag as an environmentally friendly alternative.

Research has shown that there are over 46,000 pieces of plastic waste per square mile in the world's ocean. Plastic is responsible for the deaths of over 1 million seabirds and 100,000 mammals annually through ingestion or entangling. During the production of plastic bags, benzene, a known carcinogen, is released and the resulting end product can last for thousands of years. Plastic bags are also notoriously difficult to dispose of – when incinerated they release carcinogens and when buried, toxins invade drinking water supplies. Apart from the devastating environmental costs, plastic is derived from oil – a substance that is running out fast.

Each year the Botanics Shop at the Edinburgh Garden uses an estimated 160,000 plastic bags. Responding to environmental concerns and as part of RBGE's efforts to become more environmentally responsible, these will now be replaced by jute derived alternatives. As Retail Manager Sheena Elliot highlights, we can all help the environment in our own small way;

'Each of us uses on average 134 plastic carrier bags a year. We take these free bags for granted without considering the impact they are having. By using jute bags, not only can our shoppers play their part in reducing the number of bags in circulation but we can also cut down the production of plastic bags and as a result, decrease the release of harmful gases into the earth's atmosphere'.

Congratulating the Botanics Shop on their efforts to reduce the problem of plastic bags, Councillor Robert Cairns, Executive Member for Environmental Services [City of Edinburgh Council] said:

"We fully support the sale of jute bags and hope that others will follow the lead of the Botanic Garden in offering these environmentally friendly bags. It is really easy to take a bag with you when you shop, and I commend the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh for taking action to encourage this. Edinburgh, along with the rest of the country, faces a problem in having to deal with ever increasing amounts of waste and while recycling is one way to tackle this, reducing waste at source remains the best option."

The jute bags [made by Jutexpo], come in a range of styles and sizes, and are guaranteed for life. Priced from £1.95 they will be available at the Edinburgh Garden initially and will be rolled out to the Regional Garden Shops in the near future.

Visit the new website for the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Photograph © Maurice Joseph, ARPS
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