"Woolworths is now proudly single-use plastic bag free. It's a commitment we made to help reduce our impact on the environment and will see the removal of more than 3.2 billion single-use plastic bags from circulation every year." - Woolworths Australia Website
If you can actually believe it, as of July 20th 2018, we have to bring in our OWN bags when we grocery shop at Woolworths. Oh, the outrage! Has Victoria missed the whole point of banning single-use plastic bags?
You don't have to be a bare-foot hippy to understand the impact of single-use plastics. All you need is empathy. There is 96.5% of ocean on Earth, which means us humans take up an extremely small percentage of space on Earth. Yet we are the contributors for up to 12million tonnes of plastic ending up in our oceans every year. Our marine life is mistaking all this plastic for food. Turtles, seals, fish, birds, whales and dolphins are found dead after ingesting single-use plastics.
So why are so many people outraged at the fact that they now have to bring their own bags when they grocery shop? Woolworths did not drop a bomb-shell. They have been telling us for months that the plastic bag ban was coming. Why are people more concerned about an "inconvenience" or the cost of bags than the environmental impact plastic bags have? Where did we go wrong? We have become so reliant on plastic products that we have lost touch with reality. The reality is that we are choking the planet, one plastic item at a time. Plastic doesn't ever just "go away". Every piece of plastic ever produced still exists.
Sometimes we are even greenwashed into believing we are doing the right thing. Have you ever bought an item that was "biodegradable" and you thought you were saving the planet? You thought wrong! Biodegradable means it breaks up, not down. Have you bought something that was "compostable" and thought you were saving the planet? Wrong again! Check the label closely. It probably says it's only compostable in an industrial compost facility, not in your home compost.
Woolworths missed the mark by selling 15c "reusable" plastic bags. Once these bags are no longer usable, they will end up in landfill and take longer to break down as they are now made from thicker plastic. They found a loophole as they are "reusable" and not single-use, but really... it's still plastic.
So what can we do now? Purchase natural reusable bags like cotton or jute/hessian for grocery shopping and even general shopping. There's no need to accept plastic bags from any store if you come prepared.
The world isn't going to fall apart if you are forced to bring your own bags but it might well fall apart if you continue to use plastic bags.
Links & Resources
War On Waste
A Plastic Ocean
Green Peace Australia
Insta-worthy accounts regarding plastic