Two and a half years ago we made the choice to stop using plastic bags in our store. Looking back at this decision that we made and evaluating its impact, we came to realise that with this single act we have stopped approximately 60 000 plastic bags from entering our community’s environment.
The issue surrounding single-use plastic bags is that they can take over 500 years to decompose and can often release toxic emissions into the atmosphere as they degrade in the sun. Another problem we have on our hands is the ambient air pollution that is created when these bags are burnt in landfills, releasing even more toxins into our environment. Plastic pollution is a rife problem across the world, plastic bags release dangerous gasses such as methane and carbon dioxide in their decomposition process causing toxic landfill leachates that go onto effect our agricultural land and water systems. Not to mention the litter concern that has flooded our oceans and rivers, suffocating and killing-off our marine and freshwater life.
“Plastic waste has not only become a challenge in diverting it from going to landfill sites but has grown to be one of the most problematic waste streams that continues to harm the environment.” - Environment Minister Barbara Creecy
So how can you help make a difference? Here are some quick and easy ways to decrease your use:
- Choose bags that are made from a natural fibre or paper.
- Seek to use eco-friendly alternative ways of carrying your groceries and/or goods when shopping.
- Reuse the bags that you already have, reduce your purchasing of plastic bags, and recycle these single use plastics into home decorative pieces or arts and crafts for the kids.
One could say that with more education around the effects of single use plastics on ourselves, our animals, and our planet, that we as a human race could make more informed decisions on the types of materials, we wish to make use of in our daily lives. With awareness we can preserve the planet and create a life that we would want our children’s children and generations to come, to experience.
Although there is no law banning plastic bags, efforts have been made by our government by means of increasing levies on plastic bags and implementing strict manufacturing requirements to discourage the creation and usage of them.
And remember, "Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." – Helen Keller.