Shoppers encouraged to ditch plastic bags

A small group of dedicated Daylesford environmentalists are attempting to clean up the Hepburn Shire one plastic bag at a time.    

Plastic Bag Free Daylesford was a recent recipient of a community grant from the Hepburn Shire Council and will now put the $2000 of funding towards making the transition to reusable bags an easier one for local shoppers. 

Change: Plastic Bag Free organiser Michelle Stephenson is leading the charge to encourage the use of reusable shopping bags.  Picture: Dylan Burns.

Change: Plastic Bag Free organiser Michelle Stephenson is leading the charge to encourage the use of reusable shopping bags. Picture: Dylan Burns.

Plastic Bag Free Daylesford organiser Michelle Stephenson said one of the biggest challenges was getting people to remember to bring reusable bags when they visit the supermarket. 

The group is partnering with Coles to implement a boomerang bag service where people can borrow handmade fabric bags when they visit the supermarket instead of wasting plastic.

“Coles is on board and they have their own sustainability targets around reducing plastic bag use and they've been training staff to have a minimum of eight items in each bag,” Ms Stephenson said.  

“We’ve got a lot of support because we already have a lot of local retailers who don't use plastic bags and have switched to paper, we've just got to take it another step and get rid of the major distribution in the town.”

According to Clean Up Australia, Australians use 3.92 billion plastic bags a year, equating to more than 10 million new bags a day.  

While Tasmania, South Australia, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory have all imposed a ban on free plastic bags, they are still available in all other states. 

The group will officially launch their campaign in March, with a goal to make a major dent in the town’s usage by the end of the year. 

Ms Stephenson said the group was also working with council to get a plastic bag recycling station at the Daylesford Transfer Station, which would allow the bags to be put to good use. 

“A number of community groups who deal with the homeless are making mattresses out of plastic bags, so that might be where they can be distributed,” Ms Stephenson said.  

“I don't think we will be completely free of plastic bags until there is a change in legislation but if I could put a big hole in it by the end of the year I'd be wrapped.” 

The group ran a community consultation session on cutting down plastic bag usage in 2016 and also circulated a petition in September calling on the bags to be banned from the town. 

Hepburn Shire mayor Sebastian Klein said while community grants do not necessarily represent council’s endorsement of a project, “it’s encouraging to see when community members take it upon themselves to try and improve the local environment”.  

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