Government seeks to remove this too-common menace 73

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Remember how rubbish used to be wrapped in yesterday’s newspaper, lunches in grease-proof paper and bread was sold in paper bags and stored in bread bins?

Then, almost overnight, everything changed, as synthetics invaded and plastic took over.

It revolutionised the way we did things. Tupperware, Gladwrap, sandwich bags, bread in plastic bags – suddenly everything was so much easier, so much more convenient.

But all this plastic and convenience has come at a cost. Unlike natural materials like cotton, plastic doesn’t break down and most of it ends up in landfill, unless it is one of those lightweight biodegradable bags that are in the minority.

It has become an epidemic, no a pandemic. An estimated 1 trillion bags are used and discarded world-wide every year, of which Australians use 3.92 billion plastic bags a year, with most of those bags ending up in landfill.

Thankfully, Australia is doing something to curtail the use of plastic bags, with various state governments banning retail outlets like supermarkets using the “plastic menace”, although at least one state government backflipped on a promise to do so because of a fear of voter backlash. Many other stores are also doing their bit by  introducing a charge and encouraging shoppers to bring their own bags with them.

In the UK, the government has finally taken action, earlier this month making in compulsory for larger stores to charge 5p a bag.

But is it enough, or a case of too little, too late?

Let’s talk: What do you think? Would you like to see a ban on plastic bags, and a return to a more natural world? 


Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. When the first large supermarkets opened our groceries were packed into large paperbags, Times sure change….i personally dislike the plastic bags of today seeing the damage caused by them to our Environment.

    1 REPLY
  2. I recall when not only rubbish was wrapped in newspaper but also fish and chips were wrapped in newspaper. These days I read the via an app. So newspaper is almost

  3. I’ve just bought greased paper bags to store ham and it’s doing good, sadly ham was bought from supermarket in a plastic packet. But I usually use cling film, aka glad wrap to keep it fresh, a small step in the right direction.

  4. Too many unfortunate, unintended problems associated with plastic bags after they are disposed of. I use plastic shopping bags for many things after bringing the shopping home, but they still end up affecting the environment eventually. Supermarkets should return to using organic type bags.

  5. I use green bags and have done for years, however I’m having my groceries delivered at the moment and they come in plastic but I’m able to give them back to the driver the following week for recycling.

  6. We started being charged for plastic bags in Mallorca a year or so ago….and the charity shops were becoming desperate for bags as everyone was using ‘proper’ shopping bags. Now, people just accept that they have to pay for a bag…..and once again there’s loads available. So, not a solution in the long run….they will probably have to just stop making them…….

  7. I’m a South Australian we haven’t had plastic bags at the supermarket for a good few years. We’ve all learnt to take our own bags with us. Some speciality shops still give plastic bags but they are the thicker brandname bags. Other places like takeaways have a biodegradable bags.

    1 REPLY
    • In Canberra, for many years we also have to bring our own bags. I always carry around a few of those reusable bags that can be rolled up into a small roll, secured with an attached elastic. Bought in bulk from Wollies or Coles.
      They slip into a back pocket or a hand bag, do not take up much room and available when you might just need one.

  8. When plastic bags first came out, I thought the idea was for them to be disposable. They were for a while, then they changed – not enough money in it ??

  9. I don’t care if the get rid of the plastic bags the supermarkets are using as long as they get rid of those green plastic ones that a lot of people are using as well, the normal plastic bags do break down but the green ones don’t. I don’t know why they don’t go back to the paper bags our groceries were always packed in.

    12 REPLY
    • Yes correct , paper is made from trees but the question was, what are paper bags made from ? and paper bags are made from paper and also from recycled paper.

    • Yes paper is made from trees but these trees can be farmed. They are renewable and help filter the environment. Cotton also comes from a plant but it uses a huge amount of water to grow. The common plastic bag used in supermarkets does actually break down. Also most large supermarkets offer a recycling collection point. The grey bags we get at the supermarket is made from these recycled bags. The bags sold and promoted as the latest answer to this problem is many times worse for the environment than the current thin plastic bag as it takes something like 40 years to break down. Think ahead to the environmental problem that will exist in a few years from them. I think the plastic bag, while not good is no longer as bad as it was because there has been positive action taken with regard to recycling it and making it more degradable. I think charging for biodegradable plastic bags is simply another way of profiting from the shopping we have to do and we will need more bags because they will not be strong. Remember the target bags we were forced to buy that fell apart often before you left the shopping centre and they only held clothes!

    • My green bags break down, often when they’re filled with cans that drop on my toes. I agree with going back to paper bags though, as long as they’re made from plantation pine

  10. Great idea , it is about time, plastic is made by a lot a of chemicals, and is not good for the environment. Paper bags were much better, but is there going to be an outcry about how many trees are going to be destroyed to make them. Time will tell.

    2 REPLY
    • I thought we had pine plantations planted tears ago to use for our paper, l think they are still there. I haven’t been back to Perth for over 25 years,

  11. I have a ton of those green supermarket cloth bags, at least once a month I forget to take them and I have to buy more, someone clever needs to invent something we can make out of them..

    3 REPLY
    • My husband and I each have several green bags in our cars, and, nothing could be easier than putting them back in the car after use.

    • thanks Maureen Hogan for the tip but I had to sell the car when the medication got a bit heavy, I would hate to kill anyone driving

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