Let’s ban plas­tic bags

Kapi-Mana News - - OPINION -

Ed­i­tor,

It is a sad and ret­ro­grade step that the Porirua City Coun­cil has voted not to in­tro­duce a by­law that would ban plas­tic bags in our city.

In this re­spect, Porirua is out of step with a num­ber of ma­jor cities in­clud­ing San Fran­cisco, Toronto, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Mum­bai, Delhi and a host of oth­ers eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble on Google that have made moves to par­tially or to­tally ban plas­tic bags.

Porirua has a se­ri­ous lit­ter prob­lem. I know be­cause ev­ery week I spend 10 hours or more clean­ing the var­i­ous fore­shores and streams in this city. Only yes­ter­day I spent four hours on my hands and knees along the shore of the la­goon south of the Gear Homestead.

In that time I col­lected two max­i­sized rub­bish bags full to the brim and I had only cov­ered 100 me­tres of shore­line by the time I quit to continue an­other day. Al­most all of the rub­bish was plas­tic of one sort or an­other, but the num­ber of plas­tic bags was be­yond be­lief.

There were more than 20 bags just float­ing in the wa­ter in that short stretch and the shore was ab­so­lutely strewn with them amongst all the other plas­tic junk. I was watched by one white heron and felt em­bar­rassed to be a mem­ber of the hu­man race.

Ed­u­ca­tion has not worked. Some lo­cal shops are show­ing wel­come ini­tia­tive, such as Spot­light, which re­cently was re­ward­ing cus­tomers for bring­ing their own bag four times with a 20 per cent dis­count on the next pur­chase, but var­i­ous su­per­mar­kets and other busi­nesses continue to give out bags with­out charge and so many just end up blow­ing into the wa­ter­ways, walk­ways and in our streets.

It is shock­ing to learn that plas­tic bags were banned by Bangladesh in 2002 af­ter plas­tic bags were found to have been re­spon­si­ble for the 1988 and 1998 floods that sub­merged most of their coun­try. It is hum­bling to know that Rwanda banned plas­tic bags years ago and is said to be one of the clean­est nations on earth.

Porirua City has many out­stand­ing fea­tures and I per­son­ally am very proud to live here. What I am not proud of in this city is our habit of us­ing plas­tic as if it has no value, and drop­ping it here, there and ev­ery­where with­out re­gard to its ef­fect on the en­vi­ron­ment.

We are an ex­am­ple to the coun­try in so many ways and we are in a po­si­tion to lead the coun­try on the press­ing is­sue of plas­tic, yet we have goofed.

(Let­ter abridged) car would have trav­elled 13 me­tres. The World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion rec­om­mends 20 or 30kph out­side schools and play ar­eas.

No mat­ter how well chil­dren and even teenagers are taught about the dan­gers of the road, when they are near their mates, their brains of­ten go to mush. Also chil­dren’s brains are not de­vel­oped enough to be able to judge the speed of ve­hi­cles com­ing to­wards them.

I have been in touch with As­so­ciate Min­is­ter of Trans­port Si­mon Bridges and he tells me that a con­sis­tent speed limit out­side schools isn’t fea­si­ble, as did Steven Joyce as Min­is­ter of Trans­port be­fore. Mean­while, Gerry Brownlee re­mains silent.

A con­sis­tent speed limit should be in place out­side all schools. Roads need to be nar­rowed out­side schools, to make driv­ers want to slow in the area and apart from the usual sig­nage be­fore the school zone. Paint on the road should alert driv­ers that they are en­ter­ing a school zone.

This is one death of an in­no­cent child too many. Our politi­cians need to start be­hav­ing like adults and pro­tect our chil­dren.

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