From lit­tle things big things grow

Shepparton News - - LIFESTYLE WEEKEND - LAU­REN FORMICA week­endlife@shep­p­news.com.au

Aus­tralia’s big­gest su­per­mar­kets re­cently stopped sup­ply­ing their cus­tomers with sin­gle-use plas­tic shop­ping bags, freeof-charge, to carry their pur­chases.

A strat­egy for im­ple­ment­ing sus­tain­abil­ity into ev­ery­day Aus­tralian lives, Coles and Wool­worths have al­ready com­pleted phas­ing out plas­tic bags, a tran­si­tion that be­gan in May.

Su­per­mar­kets have taken this ini­tia­tive to save our en­vi­ron­ment.

As I have no driver’s li­cence, I don’t travel to the su­per­mar­ket as fre­quently as my Mum.

So I de­cided to ask her how this ac­tion has af­fected her and her daily shop­ping rou­tine.

A spon­ta­neous shop­per, she ex­plained that al­though the ban on plas­tic bags had its pos­i­tives, you need to be or­gan­ised and carry bags in your car fre­quently.

Con­sumers will have to change the way they shop.

If we re­ally want to make a dif­fer­ence to the en­vi­ron­ment we will have to be or­gan­ised and carry sus­tain­able bags to carry our pur­chases and re­tail­ers may have to change the way they mar­ket their brand.

Aus­tralia con­sumes about four bil­lion plas­tic bags a year!

Al­though it is con­ve­nient, plas­tic bags are in fact deadly to our en­vi­ron­ment.

Sta­tis­tics show that it takes be­tween 100 and 500 years for a sin­gle-use plas­tic bag to dis­in­te­grate.

As an al­ter­na­tive, Wool­worths and Coles will now of­fer (for 15¢) thick plas­tic re­us­able bags.

But en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists warn they could cause more dam­age to the planet if cus­tomers start to buy these and con­tinue to throw them out.

So it begs the ques­tion — is this good deed all it is cracked up to be?

Aus­tralia’s mega-su­per­mar­kets hope their cus­tomers bring their own bags, prefer­ably can­vas or an­other non-plas­tic ma­te­rial.

Is this a mar­ket­ing tool to make more money for charg­ing cus­tomers to buy bags to carry their gro­ceries? But what are we go­ing to use for bin lin­ers? Plas­tic bags are con­ve­nient. They are durable and can be used more than once. But al­though plas­tic bags are a handy item in our cup­boards, they dis­rupt the en­vi­ron­ment in se­ri­ous ways.

They get into soil and slowly re­lease toxic chem­i­cals and even­tu­ally break down the soil.

Un­for­tu­nately, an­i­mals eat these plas­tic bags, choke and die.

Even in ar­eas where wildlife is rel­a­tively scarce, plas­tic bags cause sig­niÅ­cant en­vi­ron­men­tal harm.

Run-off wa­ter col­lects and car­ries dis­carded plas­tic bags and ul­ti­mately washes them into storm sew­ers.

The harm­ful plas­tic bags of­ten form clumps with other types of de­bris once in the sew­ers, and ul­ti­mately block the AEow of wa­ter.

This pre­vents run-off wa­ter from prop­erly drain­ing,

Will this change in our shop­ping save the planet? Well, if not, it is at least a start. It’s the re­spon­si­bil­ity of each and every one of us to do lit­tle things, be­cause lots of lit­tle things com­bined do make a dif­fer­ence.

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