Yes, it is 10 days since my last blog post. There is no good reason – I just took a break.
I think the biggest news (in Australia) in the past couple of weeks has been the announcement by Woolworths that they will stop using single-use plastic bags. This was closely followed by Coles announcing that they would do the same. Here is a news report. I have not commented on this announcement so now is probably as good a time as any.
“What a great initiative” was my my immediate thought, especially in the midst of Plastic Free July. Perhaps the movement was really starting to gain some traction with mainstream consumers?
My optimism was short-lived as I began to hear and read various responses. In fact, despair would have been a more accurate description of my mood over the following days.
Here is a round-up of the sort of comments that came to my notice:
- It is only so they (supermarkets) can sell more heavy-duty plastic carrier bags.
- Green bags are made from a plastic-based fabric – you have to use them 347 times to make the impact less than the single-use plastic bags.
- What will I use to collect dog poo when out walking?
- Research shows that the sale of bin liner bags has increased in those states that have completely banned single-use plastic bags.
- What will I use to line my bins?
It is evident that many, many people have long way to go before they understand the impact of the millions of plastic bags which are produced every year and used only once. They also do not appear to be prepared to adjust their lifestyle even slightly.
So, how do you counter these and a million other ill-informed comments?
The first and simplest thing is to consider investing in some strong fabric bags that do not contain plastics. I can assure you that these will last for many, many years and can be repaired as necessary.
Work towards generating less waste so that you have a reduced need for bin liners. Purchasing larger packs, from bulk bins, unwrapped, using your own produce bags will all assist in reducing the amount of packaging waste.
Take more care with grocery shopping and buy only what you will actually use. Remember, first world countries such as Australia, the USA and UK discard around 25% of all food produced. Make sure you are not part of this dreadful statistic.
Consider composting food scraps to reduce the amount which you currently send to landfill. Even if you do not have access to a backyard there are numerous systems available which can be used by people living in apartments. Additionally, there are opportunities to connect with people who may be happy to take your scraps for their compost system or search for a community garden in your area. Online connections are invaluable in the 21st century for developing relationships which are mutually beneficial. One such example is Spare Harvest which is building a sharing community for excess produce, plants and garden resources.
Small bins that do not contain wet food scraps can be lined with newspaper. So, the naysayers point out that not everyone gets the newspaper anymore!
The real point of this post is to encourage everyone to take a positive, solution-based approach to change. We need to be looking for innovative ways to reduce our environmental footprint rather than railing against any change which may happen to impact our wasteful lifestyle.
I live in a semi-rural area and our local town has a Woolworths and IGA supermarkets as well as a selection of independent retailers. Almost all of these businesses routinely provide plastic bags for purchases. I believe that the impending phasing out of plastic bags by the retail giants can taken up by all retailers and set a precedent by making Maleny plastic bag free.
I intend to promote this idea and encourage others to become involved. My first strategy will be to contact the IGA supermarket and ask them to match the Woolworths ban on plastic bags. I am also looking into the Boomerang Bags project which would be a perfect way to introduce people to the options available to fill the void left by the removal of plastic bags.