Group takes action to reduce plastic bag addiction

Sparky the Sharky shares her message in support of her home crew…… living just out past the break at Wategoes Beach. Photo contributed

Sparky the Sharky shares her message in support of her home crew…… living just out past the break at Wategoes Beach. Photo contributed

Single-use plastic items are the bane of local councils, where they clutter up landfill, never decaying or rotting.

In Byron shire it’s got to the point where the Myocum tip is full and rubbish now has to be transported to southern Queensland to be buried.

Then, of course, there are the terrible tales of what happens to turtles, fish and sea birds that swallow plastic bags swept down drains and into our rivers and oceans.

Now a collective of community organisations want Byron shire residents to take their shopping habits back to the 1960s, before the era of plastic packaging.

How did you carry your groceries back then? It’s simple: you took a basket or a string bag with you.

This ageing writer can even remember my mum taking the saucepans down to the local Chinese on takeaway night.

Plastic Free July is part of a global initiative that aims to change we way we use, view and accumulate plastic in our lives.

Participants in the June 24 Jonson Street clean-up campaign, kicking off Plastic Free July. Photo contributed

Participants in the June 24 Jonson Street clean-up campaign, kicking off Plastic Free July. Photo contributed

To mark the month, a local collective of community organisations is organising street clean-ups, beach clean-ups, film nights, (non plastic) bag making workshops as well as primary and high school programs across the shire.

As part of the initiative Santos Organics, Australia Seabird Rescue and Clean Coast Collective took to the streets of Byron this morning for the street clean-up. The team is helping minimize the waste that travels from our streets through our drains and into our oceans.

Plastic Free July organisers hope that by inspiring a move to plastic-free shopping, which is made easier bu the number of bulk food stores in the area, the result will be a considerable reduction in plastic waste from residential properties going to landfill.

Campaign co-organiser Paul Crebar says, ‘plastic is a fantastic product with such a versatile use for items requiring longevity, but it has got severely out of hand nowadays. It’s being wrapped around every piece of food we purchase and it is completely unnecessary. Single-use plastic is damaging our environment as seen by the sad state of our oceans and landfills reaching capacity.’

Drew Rogers from Waste Free Futures says, ‘it is a wasteful exercise to use tax payers’ money to transport residents’ waste to a distant landfill site, especially when [we can] minimise this council expenditure by shopping smarter and being vigilant with our recycling habits. Refuse where possible, re-use always and recycle carefully.’

Buying products in bulk is a great step towards reducing the plastic waste we accumulate through our spending and Plastic Free July is a great month to start with discounts available at Santos Organics stores.

Support this initiative by registering to take the challenge to refuse or at least minimise your plastic accumulation for the month of July. Residents are urged to register and participate in any of the events and actions found at

The collective includes Santos Organics, Clean Coast Collective, Bolsa Bags, Waste Free Futures, Boomerang Bags, Patagonia, Byron Shire Council and The Echo.

2 responses to “Group takes action to reduce plastic bag addiction”

  1. Joe says:

    The old days are gone. The average shopper is also the average busy worker and parent who flies around for work and delivering/collecting kids etc. We have no use for carrying our own bags, pans, cartons to pick up odd items for the dinner. We want our plastic bags, no matter what a few greenies prefer.

    If plastic bags are that much of a nuisance then it becomes a matter of management not total banning. I’d suggest that there are too many greenies with too much time on their hands trying to impose their preferences on the rest of us.

  2. Petrus says:

    In Canberra free plastic bags were banned. The result was that instead of reusing our bags to contain our rubbish, people buy bags, and Coles, Woolworhts and or Aldi ahve been the main beneficiary of the law. Plastic bags are a relatively small part of overall non-reusable rubbish but they have become somewhat of a cause célèbre . A better approach is to educate people and business in the impacts of packaging, and to tax non-reusables according to the impact on landfill. McDonalds moved to degradable packaging decades ago and have shown that a major corporate body can profit from demonstrating environmental awareness – though of course places that eschew the culinary delights of their restaurants might not be aware of their packaging policies.

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