We live is a world where we are surrounded by plastic. Bags, straws, cups, lids, containers, wrapping and packaging (just to name a few) are all made of plastic. In society, plastic = convenience. Its accessibility has made it the ‘norm’ and usage is at an all time high. Did you know that Woolworths currently give out more than 3.2 billion single-use plastic bags every year and studies have shown that approximately 1% of these (30-40 million) find their way into our oceans. Speaking of which there was a video not too long ago on Facebook where a turtle had inhaled a plastic straw. The turtle squealed and squirmed as the vet carefully pulled the straw from its tiny nostrils. It was heartbreaking! Plastic pollution not only afflicts marine life but also our land animals, wetlands, rivers, oceans, waterways and can even contaminate our fresh water supplies. In order to combat this environmental crisis we need to shift our way of thinking and replace plastic with much more sustainable options.
Hearing the call the McGowan Government of Western Australia has imposed a ban on single-use plastic bags from all major retailers as of Sunday, 1st July 2018. These plastic bags are typically known as lightweight high-density polyethylene bags (HDPE bags) and are 35 microns or 0.0035 millimetres (this is thinner than human hair which ranges from 60-120 microns). While this ban is definitely a move in the right direction, its execution doesn’t see plastic bags gone for good. Supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths are offering shoppers a 15c heavy-duty low-density polyethylene bag (LDPE bag) instead of supplying free single-use plastic bags. These more durable bags would need to be used at least four times to make up for the increased greenhouse gas emissions caused by their production. The concern is that shoppers may still discard these bags after a single use therefore defeating the purpose of having them in the first place. The issue is by keeping plastic at the checkouts it does not educate shoppers to be more environmentally friendly. Take Ireland for example, when they first introduced a 15pence (22c) levy on their plastic bags in 2002 they saw a 90% reduction in usage within six months. But in 2007 the price was bumped up to 22euro cents (32c) because shoppers had returned to their old habits and became accustomed to the additional charge. Whilst having a price tag on the heavy-duty bags will definitely deter some shoppers, others will simply bite the bullet and pay the 15c for their convenience. If all plastic bags were given the flick shoppers would be forced to look for an alternative. The same can be said for plastic straws, coffee cup lids and take away containers.
Many people don’t realise that plastic has a toxic life cycle. It is created from petrochemicals so it pollutes the environment when it is produced and it pollutes the environment when we dispose of it. Think of the big brand names that have already taken a stand against plastic bags. We seem to manage just fine at Bunnings, ALDI and IKEA don’t we? In Kenya and Bangladesh they banned plastic bags altogether. In Kenya one of the reasons was to combat the malaria problem as mosquitos were using plastic bags as breeding grounds and in Bangladesh dumped bags were clogging drains, which caused major flooding. Plastic is the root of the problem to so many environmental issues and yet many people still choose to use it irrespective of having sustainable options available to them.
Here are some simple things that we can all do to make a difference:
- Purchase hessian, calico, canvas or cotton bags instead of plastic bags.
- Leave your reusable bags in the car and use them when you shop.
- Use brown paper bags instead of plastic sandwich bags for your lunches (or reusable containers).
- Use chip clips or choose foods with zip lock bags (you can also purchase products that will reseal your food).
- Put your fruit and veg straight in the shopping trolley.
- Say no to plastic straws.
- Separate your rubbish and recycle (remember to put your bin out).
- Be selective about what you buy (fair-trade is an ethical option).
- Consider drinking from the tap instead of buying bottled water (filtration systems are available).
- Resell and donate items instead of throwing them away (otherwise they become landfill).
- Give old clothes a second life and use the fabric to create new clothes or homemade bags.
- Remember the three ‘R’s: reduce, reuse and recycle.
One of my friends recently told me that when speaking to her son about recycling he said “but Mum you are just one person”. While he is technically correct the principle behind his words couldn’t be farther from the truth. It only takes one person to have a single idea that can inspire others and bring about positive change. Ciera Kilgour is one such person with her local Western Australian business, Ahimsa Earth. Founded on her love for the environment and concern for the effect plastic is having on our oceans, Ciera promotes a greener future through selling reusable products that leave zero waste. Her straws, cutlery, drink bottles, coffee cups and bags are all 100% vegan, eco friendly, sustainable and ethically made, which according to Ciera is “just as Mother Nature intended”. In Sanskrit Ahimsa means cause no injury and do no harm, thus Ahimsa Earth translates to no violence to our earth. If Ciera’s motivation wasn’t admirable enough she also donates 10% of all profits towards animal sanctuaries and environmental organisations.
I personally came across Ahimsa Earth at the Every Woman Expo in mid June. I fell in love with Ciera’s products (especially the stainless steel straws) and instantly knew that I wanted to share her story. All of the Ahimsa Earth products are impeccably designed and made to last. I truly believe in this business, its products and the need to create a sustainable future. In light of this Ahimsa Earth is offering Simply Nifty readers 10% off its entire range. All you need to do is use the promo code ‘SIMPLYNIFTY’ and the discount will be applied at the checkout.
To get your 10% off head to:
Reusable products like these will not only see our environment benefit but will help create a sustainable future for generations to come. So the next time you are heading to the shops make sure to remember your reusable bags and when you order your favourite drink don’t forget to ask the bartender to hold back on the straw (then whip out your Ahimsa stainless steel straw). Within time reusable will be the new plastic.
For more information head to:
Some other interesting articles:
Special thanks to:
During the production of this article Woolworths decided to renege on their decision to stop giving away plastic bags. Due to the backlash they have received since removing single-use plastic bags from their checkouts on Friday, 22nd June they announced that they will give away their 15c heavy-duty bags at no charge until Sunday, 8th July. Coles on the other hand is standing strong and still charging 15c for their heavy-duty bags. As an ex-checkout chick myself I kindly ask all shoppers not to abuse the staff and remember to bring your reusable bags.
If you found this article useful make sure to like and follow my Simply Nifty Facebook page to get all the nifty updates.