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.

#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

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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

Sydney totes

This goes out to all the people out there that think you can’t find a good lookin’ tote bag. We’ve compiled a list of the best tote bags in Sydney. So what are you waiting for? There’s no better time to tote simple, totewise.

Photo credit: Reuben Hills

1. Reuben Hills $15

If you love their coffee, you’ll be pleased to know that Reuben Hills have their very own eco-friendly canvas tote bag.

Photo credit: Literary gift company

2. Ariel Booksellers $30

For all the bookworms out there. Now you can tote your love loud and proud!

Photo credit: Paramount Coffee Project

3. Paramount Coffee Project

We can’t find the price, but they posted to their Facebook page with the simple caption of “You can carry all your shit in this tote if you want” and that’s all we need to know #getonit

Photo credit: Kinokuniya Japan

3. Books Kinokuniya $6-10

We can testify to the practicality and sturdiness of the Kinokuniya bags – our tote bags of choice. Book bag, grocery bag, laptop bag, shopping bag…the uses for this bag are endless. If you only ever invest in one canvas bag your whole entire life, you best make it this one.

Photo credit: The Better Living Index

4. The Local Harvest Collective $35+

The best thing about The Local Harvest Collective Bags is that you get a great little bag of organic, seasonal local fruit and veggie produce with it. You can snag one of these bad boys from their market held on the rooftop of the Paramount Building every Saturday from 9:30am-1pm.

This week’s Plastic Free roundup

It’s Friday, which means another week is drawing to a close. We thought we’d do a recap of the most interesting plastic free related facts we found out this week.

LandCare Conference 2014

“When the earth is spoiled, humanity & all living things are diminished” – Bob Hawke

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Landcare Australia held their 2014 National Landcare Conference in Melbourne this week from September 17-19. The conference focused on the theme of Celebrating our history, growing our future. There were keynote speeches from renowned chef Matt Moran, CSIRO Futures leader Dr Stefan Hajkowicz and ABC TV Landline presenter Pip Courtney amongst the many other documentary, speeches and activities going on at the conference. It was a great way of engaging young people with the issues of land and water degradation, and how sustainability is the way of the future.

We can only hope that the positive effects of the Landcare Conference helped our younger generations realise the importance of recycling and sustainable practices. Innovation is often viewed as a necessity in fixing a lot of the issues we face with the environment, but sometimes the smallest practice such as properly recycling our plastic bags or carrying around a reusable bag can make a huge difference. It can impact directly or indirectly on other issues. Most people don’t think much about the plastic bag they’ve thrown in the bin, but this one bag would most potentially find its way into our water systems and threaten our wildlife. In fact, each year 10 million tonnes of plastic ends up in waterways around the world.

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Photo credit: ECCO Magazine

If you’re on Twitter, have a quick browse of the #landcareconf14 and #landcare25 to catch all the action that went down!

Timboon, Victoria

In more uplifting news, we discovered that a humble little town, Timboon in Victoria is celebrating its 10th year going plastic free! Timboon was the first town in Victoria to go plastic-free in its business district way back in 2004. Timboon’s plastic bag initiative was started out by a local takeaway food shop owner, Jeff Bedggood along with a few other traders. They used a government pilot grant to help remove the need for plastic bags in their town – and now, 14 years later Timboon have a complete plastic bag ban. That’s 130 000 less plastic bags a month in the supermarket alone. This is a spectacular story of how a few individuals can spark a larger community movement and achieve success!

mission-success

California plastic bag ban (finally!) 

California has made history, becoming the FIRST American state to pass a statewide plastic bag ban. San Francisco became the first city in the whole of the US to implement this ban back in 2007. It seems the rest of the state is only starting to catch up now, but better late than never. Nathan Weaver of Environment California says the ban “shows that we can achieve lasting victories for ocean and environmental health. Nothing we use for a few minutes should pollute our ocean for hundreds of years.”

We can only hope this movement spreads to NSW who still remains one of the few Australian states to not yet implement a plastic bag ban. Just to put things into perspective for you worldwide, an estimated 1 trillion plastic bags is consumed annually. That’s a staggering 2 million plastic bags per minute. We only use these bags for an average of 12 minutes before we dispose of them. Unfortunately it takes 15-1000 years for a plastic bag to degrade and even so, they’re not completely degraded. They only break up into smaller plastic particles.

It’s nice to see the world is starting to notice the need for the plastic bag ban.

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Enjoy your weekend responsibly and don’t forget your reusable tote bags! #totewise #plasticfree