One of our partners, the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town, has launched a campaign to stop the use of plastic shopping bags. Encouraging people to use reusable shopping bags will make a huge difference to our environment, as well as our marine animals.
But wait a minute, I thought we already did this?
In 2004 the Department of Environmental Affairs, imposed a charge for all plastic shopping bags.
According to Hayley McLellan of the Rethink the Bag campaign, the outcomes of this legislation should have been:
- to undertake to clean up our environment as the number of plastic bags drifting around was becoming unmanageable as well as embarrassing to South Africa as a country of otherwise magnificent natural beauty. (the plastic bag is known tongue-in-cheek as our national flower)
- to create consumer awareness as to our mindless use and abuse of this item.
- to create Buyisa e-Bag whose job it is to generate recycling and educational programs that will support all communities (rich and poor) to take responsibility for our use and disposal of these plastic bags as well as other plastic items.
However, Hayley feels that not all of these outcomes have been realised. Although plastic bag use has decreased from 10 billion plastic shopping bags each year to 4 billion, (a statistic that still needs verifying) plastic bag recycling remains low.
Although 13% of the plastic bag levy goes to Buyisa e-Bag (which is R156 million so far) only 7 of the planned 30 recycling centres have been built.
Banning plastic bags altogether has been done in other places such as Bangladesh, Tanzania, China. Italy, United Arab Emirates to name a few.
What can you do:
- Sign the petition calling on the Government to ban plastic shopping bags in South Africa.
- Take a pledge to never take another plastic shopping bag again
- Keep a reusable shopping bag with you, in your handbag or rucksack
- Buy an “onya” shopping bag. A shopping bag which folds up really small – look out for them at tills of independent shops
- Don’t forget, this doesn’t only apply to groceries, take a bag when you purchase other things too.
- Make sure that you always recycle plastic bags (after reusing them many times of course!)
- Spread the word. Make your home and workplace a “no plastic bag zone”. When you invite friends around for a braai ask them not to bring food in plastic bags.
- Why not take is a step further, and take your own containers to takeaway places or to restaurants for your doggy bag.