How beneficial are Reusable Bags for our Environment?
Thomas Jayson | On 08, Jul 2018
From July 8, Australian grocery chains Coles and Woolworths will no longer be providing free plastic bags to customers as a means of protecting the environment.
It is a widely known fact that the overuse of plastic is hugely detrimental to the environment, especially in regards to the pollution of our oceans and marine life. Because of this, Coles and Woolworths have implemented the use of reusable bags over plastic bags. Though the plastic bags were free of charge to customers, reusable bags will cost 15 cents each.
While some academics are suggesting that reusable bags will only begin to benefit the environment after fifty uses, such as Karli Verghese from RMIT University, others claim that they are less prone to blow away, can hold more groceries and are less likely to harm marine animals.
The initiative has angered many customers, who believe that the grocery stores are merely trying to profit off of their customers rather than serve the interests of the environment. The societal backlash has lead mainstream news networks, such as Seven News, to explore the issue further. Some Australians are also claiming that the initiative is fairly redundant, as fruits and vegetables are generally wrapped or bagged in plastic.
Ultimately, the onus is on the customers to dictate the effectiveness of the measure. If people do remember to bring and use their bags regularly, they will not suffer any extra expenses and will be positively impacting the environment. In a similar vein, those who are buying garbage bags and using them as a cost-effective measure to pack their groceries are causing more harm than good, but that can hardly be blamed on Coles and Woolworths.
In South Australia and Tasmania, they have been free of plastic bags in Coles and Woolworths since 2003. Though some Australians residing in Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia and Queensland are struggling with the transition, if history indeed does repeat itself, they will get used to remembering to bring their reusable bags to the shops in no time.
Though the overuse of plastic in Australia goes far beyond plastic bags, and this is a small step, it is a step in the right direction nonetheless. If Australians nationwide get into the rhythm of remembering to bring their reusable bags, they will be bags that they can use forever, and our overall use of plastic will be diminished to an extent. Rather than looking at the issue through an economic lense, we as a nation should look at it through an environmental one. Australia boasts one of the most beautiful, pristine landscapes in the world. To protect our beaches, rainforests, deserts and bushlands, I am sure that we can all agree that protecting the inherent beauty of our country is far more important than having to remember to bring a bag when you head down to the shops!