A friend told me recently she couldn’t live my life. What is my life? I make bread, I recycle stuff, I try not to drive much, I source stuff locally. That is my life. And it’s really not that hard, I swear.
I realise not everyone is up for cloth nappies and breaking up with the supermarkets, but if I could ask everyone to make just one little change, this would be it: ditch the plastic bags.
That’s it. If everyone I knew promised to never use a single-use plastic bag again, I would shut down this blog and go do something else with my life because the impact of that single change would be far-reaching enough for me to feel my work here is done.
The case for going plastic bag free
- Australians use almost 4 billion single-use plastic bags. Most of these go to landfill instead of being recycled. There, they take hundreds of years to break down.
- 50 million plastic bags end up as litter every year. They accumulate rapidly – each of us can immediately think of a place where plastic bags go to hang out.
- Plastic bags are made from non-renewable oil and gas; the embodied energy of 9 plastic bags would drive a car 1 kilometre.
- Every year, over six million tonnes of rubbish is dumped into the world’s oceans. Plastic accounts for 80% of debris found in the world’s oceans. Of this, 10% is plastic bags. (Note that this comparison is by weight, 10% is a massive amount considering the light weight of plastic bags.)
- Plastic in the ocean kills over one million sea birds and 100,000 sea mammals annually.
Ingested marine debris was responsible for killing about a third of turtles found dead in Moreton Bay, which is on my doorstep.
- They’re not free! Supermarkets and shops factor the costs of all those bags into your groceries, and councils spend millions of dollars picking up our rubbish, which increases taxes.
Plastic bag free March: you can do it!
Queensland Conservation is calling on all Australians to go plastic-bag free for the month of March. Queensland is the wort-performing state when it comes to litter and our government could not give a rat’s razoo about the environment, so it’s up to us as individuals to make a change.
Even if you’re not in the Sunshine State, you can still get involved. You simply have to register and then avoid single-use plastic bags for the month of March.
That means taking reusable bags when you go shopping – and reusable produce bags if you want a gold star – and saying no to any single-use plastic bags that come your way.