With the plastic bag ban almost upon us, it’s time to ask yourself, “am I ready?”
Convenience doesn’t have to cost the Earth!
From the 1st of July (or the 20th of June at Woolworths, BWS and Big W stores), Queensland and Western Australia will ban single-use lightweight plastic bags from major retailers. The widespread impact of plastic pollution on our environment, in particularly our marine life, has proved to be catastrophic. An estimated whopping one billion single-use lightweight plastic shopping bags are used in Queensland each year, with around 16 million of these ending up in the environment.
When this happens, animals such as sea turtles and sea birds can become entangled in them or swallow them, causing serious health issues. Around 30% of all sea turtles have ingested plastic debris.
With the plastic bag ban in sight, let’s go over some of the facts.
Which plastic bags will be banned?
- Lightweight, single-use supermarket plastic shopping bags (the ones you bag your items in at supermarket checkouts)
- Biodegradable and degradable lightweight plastic shopping bags (these break down in the environment the same way as lightweight, single-use shopping bags and can still harm the environment)
Which plastic bags will not be banned?
- Reusable bags
- Heavy-duty plastic bags designed for reuse
- Barrier bags for unpackaged food such as fruit, vegetables, and meat
- Garbage bags
- Nappy bags
- ‘Dog poo’ bags provided by the council at dog parks
Other areas of the world that have already banned single-use plastic shopping bags include France, Italy, India, Taiwan, many countries in Africa, and California, USA.
Other areas of Australia that have already banned single-use plastic shopping bags include South Australia, Tasmania, Northern Territory, ACT, and soon to be Victoria, Western Australia, and Queensland, with New South Wales to follow later in the year.
Alongside the lightweight plastic bags mentioned here, some countries have taken further steps and banned microbeads, plastic cups, plastic straws, or other similar items that may otherwise end up causing harm to nature.
What other steps can you take to reduce plastic use and waste in your daily life?
- Reusable straws. For a small cost, you can have your very own reusable straw to keep in your bag. These are usually made of bamboo or metal. Just remember to clean them.
- Bamboo toothbrushes. Next time you replace your toothbrush, consider purchasing one made of bamboo. Unlike plastic brushes, these are biodegradable.
- Compostable bags. Some of us use the single-use plastic shopping bags to line our bins, and may be wondering what we can use in place of them with the ban in sight. Luckily, compostable bin liners are available! There are even compostable dog poo bags available to bring along on your pup’s daily walkies.
- Reusable coffee cups. These cups and travel mugs are available in a range of fun colours and designs, from calming floral patterns to fun pop-culture related designs.
- Beeswax food wraps. Cling wrap and aluminium foil are two other big offenders that many of us use on a daily basis. Beeswax wraps are an environmentally friendly and reusable alternative, perfect for wrapping those sandwiches.
The ban could have an enormous positive impact on the environment and on the way we shop. From the 1st of July (or the 20th of June for Woolworths, Big W and BWS), single-use plastic shopping bags will be a thing of the past – so make a note to yourself to bring reusable bags when you leave the house for your weekly shop. Leave them in your car or in your bag to ensure you always have them with you.
And if you forget, no worries: for just a dollar or two, you can buy one brand-new at most supermarkets.