Grey Lynn leads the charge against plas­tic bags

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - By JESS ETHERIDGE

Plas­tic bags are set to dis­ap­pear from Grey Lynn’s streets – but for one day only.

Al­most 40 re­tail­ers in the sub­urb are do­ing away with them on July 31 for Plas­tic Bag Free Day.

En­vi­ron­men­tal­ist or­gan­i­sa­tion Grey Lynn 2030 is lead­ing the charge. Mem­bers cre­ated a new group, Waste Away, to or­gan­ise the event. Both Count­down su­per­mar­kets in the sub­urb are join­ing the cam­paign, Waste Away’s Colinda Rowe says.

‘‘We hope it makes their cus­tomers think about re­duc­ing sin­gle-use plas­tic bags.

It’s fan­tas­tic and we’re op­ti­mistic that more peo­ple will bring their own bags in the fu­ture,’’ she says.

The Wil­liamson Ave and Rich­mond Rd su­per­mar­kets will give cus­tomers a free re­us­able bag when they spend $50 or more, as well as putting up signs about the cause.

Rowe says the group was in­spired af­ter meet­ing ma­rine bi­ol­o­gist Steph Bor­relle ear­lier this year.

Bor­relle started a pe­ti­tion op­pos­ing plas­tic bags in Fe­bru­ary. Her cam­paign fo­cuses on sin­gle-use plas­tic bags – the thin poly­thene bags sup­plied by su­per­mar­kets and other large re­tail­ers.

The pe­ti­tion has gath­ered more than 3200 sig­na­tures.

July is World Plas­tic-Free Month. Rowe says the plas­tic bag free day co­in­cides with Bor­relle hand­ing her pe­ti­tion to the coun­cil.

Rowe says plas­tic bags take about 1000 years to biode­grade.

‘‘With this dread­ful weather at the mo­ment it’s very frus­trat­ing see­ing the plas­tic swirling around in the wind and get­ting caught in the stormwa­ter drains. We are hor­ri­fied at where this pol­lu­tion will end up.

‘‘Plas­tic bags are an item we can eas­ily do with­out,’’ she says.

Rowe says the bags are made of fos­sil fu­els – a lim­ited re­source.

‘‘Up to 100,000 ma­rine life die ev­ery year around the world be­cause of plas­tic bags,’’ she says.

Grey Lynn 2030 says ev­ery square kilo­me­tre of the ocean has about 74,000 pieces of plas­tic.

One of the group’s first ini­tia­tives was an e-waste col­lec­tion day in 2009 which saw 18 tonnes of e-waste di­verted from go­ing to a land­fill.

Count­down Rich­mond Rd store man­ager Michael Ravlich says the su­per­mar­ket will pro­vide a plas­tic bag re­cy­cling bin be­hind check­outs ‘‘for any­one want­ing to rid their cup­boards of plas­tic bags for good’’.

Photo: JES­SICA MCQUOID

En­viro war­rior: Ma­rine bi­ol­o­gist Steph Bor­relle ear­lier this year started a pe­ti­tion to end plas­tic bag use in Auck­land. Her ac­tions in­spired Grey Lynn 2030 Waste Away to or­gan­ise Plas­tic Bay Free Day for July 31.

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