OPINION: It's time to ban the plastic bag
AUSTRALIAN'S use around 6 billion plastic bags per year, 3.3 billion of which are supermarket plastic bags.
Managing Director of Clean Up Australia, Terrie-Ann Johnson believes that 80 million plastic bags end up in Australia's litter stream.
Once let loose into the environment, plastic bags can cause considerable harm, blocking drains and suffocating wildlife mistaking the bag for food. The biggest problem with plastic bags is that they do not readily break down in the environment, with estimates for the time it takes them to decompose ranging from 20 to 1000 years.
ACT, NT, Tasmania and SA already have bans in place and QLD will join them from July 2018. NSW, VIC and WA are currently not committed to the ban. Single-use plastic bags have been used in Australia for 40 years, so it's time to ban the bag or in the meantime, use an alternative.
What can we do:
- Try and take the plastic bags or paper bags you have, back to the supermarket to reuse.
- Not all your fruit and vegetables need a plastic bag, they can go straight into the trolley.
- Some retailers save cardboard boxes, so use these to pack your groceries.
- Some major supermarkets have calico or 'green' bags available for sale at a very small price. These bags can be kept in the car and used every time you shop.
- Bio-degradable bags. These bags are usually made from plastic and break down into small pieces. Those small pieces become microplastics. The best alternative is bags made with oxo-biodegradable plastic.
Using plastic shopping bags to line our garbage bins means that they still end up into landfill.
What do we use:
- Newspaper: most bins are tall and cube shape, so a newspaper can easily be folded, origami style, into the bin to line the bottom and the sides.
- Nothing: the only things that should be going into your bins is waste that cannot be recycled, composted, or reused somewhere else. These methods may not suit everyone but so long as you can reduce the use, you are helping our environment.