Why are plastic bags still around?

Why do we still use plastic bags?

Plastic bags have a huge detrimental effect to marine life, the environment and nature when used for a single time them disposed off. They are a huge waste of resources, space and time; an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion new plastic bags are being used worldwide every year!

Image by REUTERS/Kimberly White in New York


It's pretty easy to stop using them and it's definitely not a necessity; so why are they still so popular? 

The simple answer to this frustrating question is the convenience, or in simpler terms - laziness. I have seen customers buy 1 or 2 items and take a plastic bag, those plastics bag then gets carried to our car, removed at home then binned or stored in your cupboard for months on end. 

I have even seen customers take 3 bananas and put these in a plastic bag used for fruit and vegetables. A fruit that has it's only protecting shell in a plastic bag? 

It is an issue that has been around for years and a 'norm' that has taken over our culture.

Thing is I remember my mum buying big baskets from the supermarket back when I was 10 years old to pack her shopping in to take home. It was was issue then, and still an issue 19 years on, and globally. But why has this not changed? What can we do?

There are countries making big efforts in reducing plastic bags by charging pennies to have a plastic bag as discouragement. However it has been proven that applying a high tax rate on using plastic bags and passing them onto the customer does not workEveryone can freely afford 3 pence or 5 cents for a plastic bag and won't think twice to pick a couple up - The only easy solution I believe will have a lasting impact is banning plastic bags altogether, from every single store worldwide.  

I do not like single use plastic, and I have actively taken my own reusable bags to the supermarket for years. I personally believe it is the consumers responsibility to push back and say no thanks, stop giving us plastic bags. 

But what can you do?
The easiest thing to do is keep your reusable bags in your car or near your door before stepping out to the shops. Preparation goes a long way and before you know it, it becomes a routine like walking the dog or brushing your teeth. I now feel terrible if I need to take a plastic bag and have been seen to force my boyfriend to help me carry loose onions and apples in our pockets or balanced carefully in a pile on his 2 hands. 

Removing plastic bags from your lifestyle is an amazing start; I'm am now slowly but surely building a nice little pack of ethical, reusable household items that remove quite a few other single use plastic in day to day life that would otherwise be scrapped.

Here’s how we have started - maybe you can give it try;

1. Plastic Bags
Stop taking plastic bags immediately and buy a decent Jute / Canvas Shopping Bag to keep in the car or with you. I use our Liar the Label Canvas bags for work, shopping and basically carrying my entire life in it. Another good option is The Source Bulk Food Jute Bag at $10 a pop for bigger food shops.

2. Plastic Straws
Single straws are as you can imagine a completely  unnecessary addition to your drink. If you absolutely must use a straw then buy a stainless steel or glass reusable straw that will last you for ever. 

3. Coffee Cups
Coffee rules my life and I am a zombie until I get one; disposable paper cups that are given out as takeaway have plastic liners and plastic lids that take decades to decompose. Make sure you take a reusable cup from companies such as Keepcup, Joco or Kleen Kanteen.

If you forget yours (We are human) then go topless and ask for your lovely barista for your coffee without the plastic lid at very least or borrow a mug from work.

4. Gladwrap / Clingfilm / Clingwrap?
So many names for this sliver of plastic that you coat your food in.

Use brown paper sandwich bag, a reusable glass or stainless steel Tupperware bowl with a lid instead for your lunch and snacks or buy these awesome Honeybee Wraps. Based in Byron Bay they make 100% Organic Cotton Wraps that are coated in a special anti-bacterial beeswax blend. Amazing for covering lunch, snacks, bowls, and flowers and hand washable :

5. Cutlery
It's strange that plastic cutlery are the bane of takeaway food eats but are still going strong. They bend, snap and are generally pretty shitty before you even finish using them! So why are they still being manufactured? No evolution there because they are not meant to be around.  

BYO : Instead of using these ugly things, why not keep a set of your kitchen cutlery wrapped up in your bag? It’s free, pretty decent quality and doesn’t cost the earth as you already own them.

Bakey’s : I’ve only heard about Bakey’s this year. They have created edible spoons in different flavours. Seems like a pretty genius idea where you eat them after use, or dispose of them in a green bin to decompose. Not sure how they stand whilst eating and if they breakdown but I am keen to give them a go and report back.

6. BYO
Remember back in the day when you took a picnic set with you on your road trip or day out? I reckon we should go back to basics and take what you have a home. BYO cups, cutlery, Tupperware, plates, lunchboxes ;)

There's more options out there to reduce plastic, but i hope that gives a brief motivational idea for you guys too ... just start with banning the major plastic bag use in your life and go from there. 

If you want to help out more we also support the Greenpeace campaign "Ban the Bag" where many towns have already banned the bag here in Australia, but we are falling behind many other countries who have already adopted reusable bags including South Africa, UK and even Bangladesh! ... come on ... lets make the this change happen.


Video to aiding in a bag ban in California... Made by passionate volunteers on a super tiny budget, on the behalf of Green Sangha! www.GreenSangha.org/lastics-campaign/


I’ll be continuing to find more easy ways to reduce my waste and to live a minimal life… will post again soon.  

Help Support a Plastic Free Lifestyle and Sign this petition to ban the plastic bag in Australia.


Follow @plasticfreemermaid on her plastic free ventures, super inspiring and great tips.