Wednesday, July 11, 2018

My Shire Notes from June 2018: People, planet ... and plastic pollution

Image credit: Tangaroa Blue Foundation, published in The Guardian
It is a salutary thought to think that every single bit of plastic ever made is still in existence today somewhere in the world … and that it will never go away.

And yet still our fruit and vegetables and many of our groceries come unnecessarily wrapped in single-use plastic which we then put in single-use plastic bags in order to cart everything home only to throw away all the single-use plastic involved once we have unpacked our shopping.

Sadly this plastic then ends up in our landfills, our soil and our waterways, and sadly this plastic universally pollutes and invariably harms our wildlife.

Did you know that eight million tonnes of plastic waste ends up in freshwater and marine environments each year? Eight million tonnes …

So congratulations are definitely in order for Woolworths and Coles on their decision to no longer provide single-use plastic bags to shoppers at checkouts anymore.

From June 20 2018 and July 1 2018 respectively, Woolworths and Coles will commence their ‘no-more-plastic-bags’ pledge across the nation whether state governments have committed to this action or not.

Well done indeed.

The Upper Hunter Shire Council wholeheartedly supports Woolworths’ and Coles’ commitment to eliminating single-use plastic bags, and understands that customers who don’t bring their own bags will have access to a range of alternative shopping bag options, including thicker reusable plastic bags at 15 cents a bag and of course the fabulous free Boomerang Bags made in the Upper Hunter Shire and regularly supplied to Woolworths and Coles.

As we all transition to a grocery shopping experience without plastic bags, the Upper Hunter Shire Council urges Upper Hunter Shire residents to also think about seeking out products that are made from materials packaged in recyclable, compostable and/or reusable materials in order to reduce our plastic ‘consumption’ as much as we possibly can.

As we set about removing plastic in our lives, we could think of it in terms of the five Rs: Refuse, Reduce, Re-use, Repurpose, Recycle, because these actions save landfill space, save money, and definitely help to reduce greenhouse emissions.

There's also a growing grassroots movement across the world to ban plastic straws, with nearly 100 venues Australia-wide already having phased out single-use straws - now I would love to see that happen in the Upper Hunter Shire, along with the banning of cotton buds.

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