I was recently in a Canberra supermarket with a friend, when I paused by a display of coloured boxes.
“Oh, you can’t buy those,” my friend announced. “Coffee pods. Think of the waste.”
“Really?” I replied, and looked pointedly at my friend’s shopping trolley. Every single item was packaged in plastic. Everything. Meat, fruit and vegetables nestled on plastic trays covered with acres of cling film. Other food staples were in plastic bags, or boxes wrapped in cellophane or that plastic foil stuff. There were plastic bottles, plastic boxes and a plastic bag full of plastic bags to put all the plastic waste in so that it could go into the waste stream via her bin. “Really?”
My friend saw my point and shrugged. “It comes packaged like this. What can I do?”
For people living in Braidwood, there’s now an answer to that question.
A new group has grown out of community concern about the amount of plastic in the local waste stream and its ultimate impact on the environment. ‘Free from Plastic: Braidwood’ was the brainchild of a couple of locals, including Anne Robinson of Majors Creek.
Robinson explained to me that the intention of the group is not to try to ban plastic or lobby for any legislative changes that people might find onerous or inconvenient, but to assist and support the local community to reduce plastic use. This is essentially a grassroots campaign to help people find options and solutions to our society’s addiction to plastic.
3.92 billion single-use plastic bags used in Australia every year and 13 billion plastic bottles
Free from Plastic is also being linked through local Landcare. Rebecca Klomp, the coordinator of the Upper Shoalhaven Landcare Council is very enthusiastic about the initiative.
“We have been trying to get a project like this off the ground for a while now however we really needed it to come from the community so we are so pleased that this free from plastic group has formed,” she said.
Klomp sees Landcare as having a pivotal role in community education and liaison.
“We have the capacity to organise educational workshops and field days on waste reduction and can promote the work of the Free from Plastic group through our network. We have some funding to help get the reusable bags at the supermarket organised and would be willing to partner or sponsor with the Free from Plastic group with grant funding.”
Australians still holding tight to disposable plastic that is becoming toxic to humans – if you don’t care about marine creatures
The statistics on plastic use and waste are staggering. Australians use 3.92 billion single-use plastic bags every year … and 36,700 tonnes of plastic bags are dumped in landfill annually. Ninety percent of the waste on Australia’s beaches is comprised of plastic. Despite the fact that they are recyclable, 13 billion plastic bottles are dumped to landfill in Australia every year.
Scientists are now finding that microbeads of plastic are winding up in our food and leaching toxins into our soil. There is no antidote to any of this except to reduce, and ultimately end, plastic use.
If anyone is interested in being part of this initiative, or would like further information, please contact Rebecca Klomp, at Upper Shoalhaven Landcare firstname.lastname@example.org
Aldi urges plastic bag ban
Aldi does not give away free plastic bags to shoppers and never has. The German discount grocer has restarted the debate on plastic bags, by calling for a complete ban on single-use bags.
Australia is one of the worst offenders for the disposable use of plastic while other countries are banning or taxing the items.
Aldi told the Sydney Morning Herald that protecting the environment makes good business sense. A spokesperson noted there is no such thing as a ‘free plastic bag’ – the price is paid somewhere, mostly by the marine environment.
The popular chain charges for bags and anyone visiting Aldi will notice that most people somehow manage to bring their own. This is also noticeable at independent ACT or NSW supermarkets that charge for bags.
The Herald quoted a UN report that more than 8 million tonnes of plastic ends up in the oceans annually, wreaking havoc on marine wildlife, fisheries and tourism, and costing at least $US8 billion in damage to marine ecosystems. Up to 80 per cent of all litter in oceans is plastic.
Belgium, Costa Rica, France, Grenada, Indonesia, Norway, Panama, Saint Lucia, Sierra Leone and Uruguay have joined UNEP’s campaign against ocean plastic.
More about this story on The Sydney Morning Herald.