Plastic bags… how do you rate?

pbfem-logoToday we are Spreading the Good Stuff for plastic bags… sounds a little strange I know.

Specifically, we are talking about the lack of awareness for the number of plastic ‘things’ that have crept into our lives, especially plastic bags.

The #spreadingthegoodstuff element of this blog comes in the form of local lady Samantha Ferrier and her dedicated team at Plastic Bag Free Echuca/Moama (PBFEM).

This crew is working hard to draw to our attention, in a positive and community-minded way, to our reliance on single-use plastics.

But this is not a story about shame and guilt or what we are ‘not’ doing in terms of our waste and the impact it is having on our local and global environment. It’s about awareness and giving credit where it’s due: to the PBFEM movement.

This movement has had a significant impact in our humble riverside town, since its inception in early 2016, by inspiring folk to become aware of their plastic habits and creating practical platforms for change.

Samantha explains their intention is to “empower our community to willingly transition away from the use of plastic shopping bags, through education, awareness and providing viable alternatives.”

Change is difficult when we need to break old habits. But it can be done.

Communities and many states across the country (except Vic, NSW and WA), and around the world, are making the switch to more biodegradable waste and are eliminating plastic bags.

Some of the poorest countries in the world have banned plastic bags and on a recent trip to Ramingining, an Aboriginal community in Arnhem Land, I noticed the supermarket only provides brown paper bags for groceries – awesome!

Across Victoria 75 towns have either gone plastic bag free or have a community group campaigning for change. Many are tourist towns, similar to Echuca Moama, and the vast majority of locals and tourists are embracing the ‘inconvenience’ of no plastic bags.

We can all do our bit at home, school, work and in our community to reduce the amount of single-use plastics we use and become more aware of our every day choices.

The PBFEM movement delivers practical ideas in spades and broadens our perspective on what it means to be plastic bag free and embraces the mantra of small change, big difference.

Australians use more than 10 million single-use plastic bags every day and once discarded these bags have a devastating impact on our environment, particularly on precious marine life.

These ‘handy’ plastic bags are also built to last, with research indicating one bag will survive for 1000 years – bloody hell!

And despite an obvious groundswell of support for ditching our reliance on plastic items it seems Australians are a little behind the rest of the pack when it comes to reducing waste and eliminating single-use plastics.

Clearly it’s time to act but where do we start?

Let’s take a quick look at the big four items when it comes to single-use plastics and one simple alternative for each:

  • Plastic shopping bags = use material shopping bags and remember to keep them in your car (I suspect this is a big one for many of us).
  • Take-away coffee cups (particularly the lids) = ask for no lid or take your own cup. BYL Espresso in Echuca now sells Keep Cups and will take 50 cents off each coffee purchase – nice work guys!
  • Single-use plastic water bottles = buy reusable drink bottles, particularly stainless steel or BPA free.
  • Plastic straws and utensils = say ‘no thanks’ to straws and carry your own fork.

Yes, eliminating all plastic from our lives is a huge undertaking, and a little overwhelming, however we can all play a part to reduce our reliance on plastic items.

There are also many ways you can support the crew at PBFEM and their Facebook page and website include a wealth of knowledge about how you can become involved.

In the meantime choose one area where you can reduce your plastic intake this week and let us know how you go over on our social pages.

Thanks to Samantha and the PBFEM crew for highlighting an important social and environmental issue which clearly needs our attention.

Good luck!

Yours in Spreading the Good Stuff,

Christy xo

#spreadingthegoodstuff #banthebag #nomoreplastic #community #echuca #moama #environment