AN award winning cheese shop is aiming to reduce its environmental impact by making a donation to the Marine Conservation Society every time a customer brings along their own reusable bag.

The Courtyard Dairy in Settle switched to paper instead of plastic bags some years ago, but found it led to them using more bags than ever.

Now, instead of charging those who ask for a carrier bag, the shop will instead make a donation to the charity.

Owner Kathy Swinscoe said: “Whereas some customers would manage without rather than take a plastic bag, that doesn’t apply so much to paper bags. So the number of bags we are using has actually increased.”

“But just because the bags are made of paper doesn’t mean that they don’t have an environmental impact. In fact research has shown that a paper bag has a four-times greater carbon footprint than a plastic one. So we wanted to come up with a better scheme to encourage people not to take a bag at all, but instead to bring their own re-usable bag.”

So, the dairy decided the best way was not to charge for bags, but rather to offer an incentive to those who did not require one.

Starting this month, it will donate 5p - the cost of a bag - to The Marine Conservation Society every time a customer uses their own bag.

Kathy said: “We get through about 15,000 bags a year. With this scheme, I hope we can reduce that number, and in the process donate to help the oceans affected by plastic pollution”.

The Marine Conservation Society, the UK’s leading marine charity, works to ensure seas are healthy, pollution free and protected.