Plastic bag bans – do they really work?

I remember on a recent trip to San Francisco, I was taken aback by how environmentally friendly the whole city was. Everybody drove a Prius, some buses ran on electricity instead of petrol, they had an amazing trash/recycling system (you have to use compostable plastic bags for food waste!) and every store I went into had a plastic bag tax. Now, I know the latter might have been some people’s worst nightmare (“So you’re telling me I’m on holiday and I also have to pay an extra 10c every time I want to buy something?”) but it was eye-opening and inspirational for me. Always having been aware of the issue of plastic bag waste/pollution, living temporarily in a city that had implemented a city-wide plastic bag ban was interesting – and not as hard as people make it out to be.

Returning back to Sydney though, I was thrown back into a world where a plastic bag was just another part of your daily routines – back in a world where no bans existed, I could understand how easy it was to fall back into a routine of using single-use plastic bags. However, knowing full well of the detriment this entails and how easy the solution is, I’ve vowed to try and reduce by plastic bag intake until they implement a statewide plastic bag ban in NSW (come one NSW, SA has been on it for ages now!)

Apart from the fact that our poor wildlife can’t dodge and defend these airborne predators as well as we can (as mentioned in the previous post), here are some reasons why a plastic bag ban works!

1. Bans encourage the use of reusable or single use bags

A non-partisan Equinox centre found that plastic bag bans in San Jose, San Diego and LA resulted in a reduction of single-use plastic bags and people were using reusable bags or no bags at all! After Ireland implemented a plastic bag tax, plastic bag usage dropped 94%.

2. Bans reduce litter issue

Photo source: Latitude news

Do you really want to live in a world of filth and rubbish? The plastic bag ban in San Jose was found to reduce litter by approx. 89% in the storm drain system, 60% in creeks and rivers and 59% in neighbourhoods. That’s a GREAT difference considering the fact that the world produces 2.5 trillion plastic bags a year that mostly end up as litter. No one likes a plastic tumbleweed…

3. Large amounts of plastic bags aren’t easily recycled – so bans help us by reducing the need to even get to this point

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. PLastic bags SHOULD be recycled by the process is cumbersome and too hard for a majority of people to do. So what happens? Well only 3% of plastic bags are recycled correctly, leaving a whopping 97% free to work their way into our environment and threaten our poor, defenseless wildlife. On average families also bring home 1500 plastic bags. Ask yourself, do you re-use all 1500 bags that you bring home? Why not just invest in one or two canvas tote bags that you WILL reuse and won’t make their way into our environment as pollution?

THIS is why we really think that a plastic bag ban actually helps and should be implemented. What are your thoughts?

In the meantime, we’ll still be toting our reusable bags #totewise. Who’s with us?

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S.O.S – Save Our Sealife

Plastic is one of the biggest silent killers of our wildlife – particularly our marine life.

More than 1 billion single-use plastic bags are given out free of charge every day around the world. As you know, plastic bags are NOT biodegradable. They do breakdown though, but in doing so, they release toxic additives including flame retardants and plasticisers into the environment. What does this have to do with our wildlife though?

Well, these chemicals pollute and disrupt the endocrine system of animals.

What’s even worse though is marine life in particular are hit the hardest by plastic bag waste. Plastic bags are so lightweight, that if they’re not disposed of correctly, they can be carried by the wind through different parts of our ecosystem. Most end up in the water, where marine animals often mistake them for food. Over 100 000 animals die within Australia alone because of this. Turtles, dolphins, whales and albatross are the most susceptible to death by choking on plastic bags. What’s so upsetting is that there is approximately 46 000 pieces of plastic floating every square mile of the ocean.

So the next time you’re in a position where you could refuse the use of a plastic bag, please keep this in mind. Even if you don’t know it, the plastic bag you are using could end up killing a member of our wildlife. Opt out of the plastic, go the reusable and #totewise

If you’re interested in helping out the wildlife, Animals Australia and Lush Cosmetics have joined up to create a ‘Say NO to Plastic Bags!’ campaign and petition in support of our animals. We’ve signed it. Have you?

Photo credit: Ron Prendergast, Melbourne Zoo

Photo Credit: How green is your bag Termata the Whale who died in 2007 after a giant rescue team across Roratonga in the Cook Island were unable to save her after she choked on a single white plastic bag.

One plastic free day, keeps the doctor away

Our motto has always been ‘Small changes make big differences’. So you can imagine how we felt when we came across the Plastic-Free Tuesday initiative. The team behind Plastic-Free Tuesday aren’t asking very much of their readers – just to set aside one day a week (Tuesday, naturally) where you skip out on using plastic to help reduce our global plastic footprint.

Here’s some of the reasons why you should be participating in spending one less day a week consuming and using plastic

1. We only started using plastics since the 1930s, and plastic bags since the 70s-80s. That’s less than a century. Yet in the last 10 years we’ve produced more plastic than we have in the whole of the last century.

2. It’s rewarding and you’ll learn so much. To know that your change can help reduce the impact of something so negative is an experience that money can’t buy – and you learn so much about new alternatives that you’ll constantly be thirsty for more and more! Plastic-Free Tuesday writer Marlies can testify to how rewarding it can be! What’s also great is her plastic-free mission this year is to reduce her use of any single-use plastics in her daily life. We love!

3. Reducing your use of plastic once a week can eventually build up a habit. You can build a habit when you start doing things more than three times. Progressively implementing new alternatives and strategies to using less plastic on a weekly basis can ease you into a complete lifestyle change.

If you’re looking for more reasons head on over to the Plastic-Free Tuesday website. They’ve got some great recommendations as to how you can be participating. Share with them your plastic free stories and don’t forget to #PlasticFreeTuesday – and if you’re looking for more reasons, they’ve whipped up a great blog post here.

Don’t feed the plastic monster – image courtesy of Plastic-Free Tuesday

#TOTEWISE Submissions

We love finding people who are opting for reusable totes instead of plastic bags on a day to day basis – whatever the situation may be. Here’s a few of our favourite images from some of our lovely readers!

What are your thoughts on using totes on a daily basis?

Keep your eyes peeled because we might be running a little competition soon!

Hannah double-toteing!
Kenny's beach bag
Kenny’s beach bag
Cathy and Nicholas taking our advice and purchasing the Salt Meats Cheese tote bag!

Weekly Plasticfree roundup

It’s that time of week again boys and girls! It’s our weekly plasticfree roundup where we deliver to you interesting plasticfree, zerowaste, eco-friendly content we’ve found. As always, hit us up if you ever find anything interesting that you think should be featured!

1. ‘Waste Less, Live More’ week 

Waste Less, Live More is an organisation that runs a annual week-long campaign that encourages society to be more aware that environmental and social issues are linked. This year it’s been running from September 22-28th and it’s still not too late to join in. The theme this year is ‘Be Resourceful’ – i.e. finding new, creative and inventive ways to live better within our means. We can think of a number of ways to be resourceful with what you’ve got without needing to source out any other materials. Running with the theme of Totewise, you can so easily reduce the need for “new” plastic bags when you go shopping, purely by bringing along a reusable bag you’ve already got. And it’s definitely a solution that can run for longer than a week.

Can you think of any other ways to be resourceful?

2. Plastic bags aren’t the only detrimental plastics 

This is a great read for anyone who wants to expand their knowledge on what plastics harm the environment and the issue of plastic waste in general. Polythene Pam from the amazing Plastic is Rubbish campaign provides a little insight into why she decided to give up plastic and how you can do it yourself. Totes inspiring, we recommend you give this a read if you want to start living a slightly more waste free life! And you might also find out some crazy facts – like sneaky products where that contain plastic that you wouldn’t have known about.

Did you know that sometimes plastic beads are added to toothpaste to add colour?

3. Cotton On Foundation – Canvas Bags

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 12.35.17 PM

We recently did a post on where you can find some great canvas totes around Sydney, but a lovely community member informed us that Cotton On also sells canvas bags at a meagre price of $2. At only $2 you can grab yourself a long-lasting reusable bag, but the best part is it also contributes to the Cotton On Foundation which runs projects to help empower youths. Helping youths and the environment! That’s a win in our books – and they’re great lookin’ bags too!

There you have it community tote-rs! That’s a plasticfree wrap up this week. Hopefully we’ve inspired some of you to go out and grab yourselves a canvas bag, kick that plastic habit and be resourceful!

Enjoy your weekend! #totewise