The Bag Ban


I really wish I did not feel compelled to write this post and I apologise in advance to those readers who live in jurisdictions not affected by the impending plastic bag ban in Queensland.

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It seems to have generated some of the most ridiculous comments I have heard in a long time.

I offer the following observations.

Lightweight plastic shopping bags have not been around forever.  They have been in use in Australia for less than 50 years.

Remembering to take your reuseable bags is as simple as remembering to take your purse and keys when you go shopping.

The ban is about the lightweight carry bags only – not the thicker plastic bags which some supermarkets may choose to sell, nor the flimsy plastic bags for produce.  However, you can choose to refuse these too.  Bring your own reuseable carry bags – fabric ones are best.  They are strong, durable and can be washed as often as required.  You can also buy or make lightweight produce bags for fruit and vegetables.

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You do not need supermarket carry bags to line your bin.  Rather than re-invent the wheel please read this post.

Instead of railing against the fact that supermarkets are profiteering, that the ban will not reduce plastic use, that you will not have a bag to line your bin, that other plastic bags are still available and so on, let us use this as a real opportunity to take a leap forward in moving away from a range of single-use plastics.  We do not have wait until change is legislated and forced upon us.  Take the lead and make a difference now.

The ban on lightweight carry bags should be just the beginning.  Plastic Free July looms on the horizon so tomorrow I will address some of the other single-use plastics that we should be campaigning to eliminate.

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Do you have a bag story?  Please share in the comments.






























Zero Waste – Is It Really?


One of the things that I am really passionate about is waste – specifically packaging.  For many years I have worked hard to reduce what I bring into the house and while I am nowhere near the nirvana that is ‘Zero Waste’, I generally do a pretty good job.

Today we went shopping for various things.  One thing I bought was some sliced salami.  Whenever I buy deli meat from the supermarket or meat from the butcher I always take my own plastic container and ask them to put the meat directly into the container and to stick the price label onto the lid.  Most of the staff are really good and simply weigh the container before adding the produce.

2012-07-29 02However, sometimes it can be challenging and you have to constantly watch what is happening or otherwise you can be easily blind-sided.  We have had instances where my request was followed and then they wrapped the whole container in miles of cling wrap or put the meat in a plastic bag before putting it in the container – AARGH!!  Today the young girl clearly had no idea how to establish the tare weight of the container so she spread a plastic bag on the scales, placed the salami on it and then tipped it into the container I had provided.  I chose not to say anything as it only causes distress to all concerned.

Also, there was not enough sliced salami in the display so she got more from the coldroom  and sliced it.  The piece she retrieved was wrapped in clingfilm and this was removed, discarded and a new piece re-applied when she had finished slicing it.  The display trays are covered with cling film also.

So, by taking my own container and refusing plastic bags and outer wrapping, can I regard this as zero waste?

Buying dry goods from bulk bins creates the same dilemma because although you buy them loose from the bulk bin they have been decanted from some sort of packaging.  At least it is usually a large quantity such as 25kg of flour or sugar so there there is less packaging per kilo.

I still buy my cheese from both the supermarket or the local factory where I can get 2kg blocks but they are still wrapped in plastic.

2012-07-29 04When I buy fruit and vegetables I always make the choice to buy loose produce that I can put in my own tulle bags that I made even if it is more expensive than the pre-packaged option.  A good alternative is a Farmers’ Market, though you do have to check as some stalls do package things into plastic bags.  It is a matter of being committed and voting with your feet as to where and how you shop.

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The only true zero waste shopping is what I can collect from my own garden – eggs, avocadoes, citrus fruit, spring onions and parsley was the haul for today.

2012-07-29 05Do you try to avoid packaging when you are shopping?  Does this influence where you shop and what you buy?

Holiday Habits


We are now on holidays in New Zealand for 2 weeks so the posts will be a bit erratic.  As with our holiday in May I am trying to maintain our sustainable habits as much as possible.

It is a bit more difficult this time as we were flying internationally so customs precluded taking any of our own food.  Nevertheless, we took our own food in reuseable packaging on the flight.

I packed a calico shopping bag as well as some of the mesh bags I use when buying fruit and vegetables.  Our food for the trip was in ziplock bags so those have been washed, dried and reused as well.

Although we could not carry fluids on the flight we did pack our stainless steel flasks and have been using them since we arrived.  I also packed plastic plates and some cutlery in a cloth bag so that we can use them for lunches when we are travelling.

Yesterday I bought an insulated cooler bag with a zip top to carry some refrigerated items in the car as we travel from one self-contained accommodation venue to the next.  The cooler bag is soft-sided and can be folded flat so that I will be able to take it home to use on future trips.

The supermarkets here have a range of goods in bulk bins so I bought muesli, dried fruit and cashews.  I used my own ziplock bags so did not need to add any extra packaging.

Till next time.