Little steps that can help the biggest things

With the clock ticking down to the ban on single use plastic bags by major supermarket chains Coles and Woolworths, we were encouraged by news they were also going to stop selling plastic straws and reduce the packaging on fresh vegetables and meat.  Little steps but big impacts. 

It is an absurdity of modern life so many basic things we need to survive are packaged in plastic and other non-degradable wrapping. 

Plastic rubbish also blocked the stomach of a pregnant pygmy sperm whale that washed up on a beach in Williamstown in late May. An autopsy showed the whale's stomach had become impacted by plastic and kelp.

Last week’s footage of a another whale dying after choking on more than 80 plastic bags off the coast of Thailand is a stark example of how that little bit of litter can go on to wreak havoc.

So the biggest beasts of the ocean are perishing from little things we think so little about and for what?

Those among us who were growing up in the 1960s and 1970s will remember how we were sent to school with our sandwiches wrapped in paper and carried in a brown paper bag.Soft drinks came in glass bottles. If they were delivered to the home, like the milk bottles, they were picked up again and reused. 

And we had more choice about where we could shop. There was a butcher, a baker and a greengrocer and none of them wrapped their products in plastic.  If we did go to a supermarket, our groceries were packed in tough brown paper bags. Once used, these bags were then recycled. 

Somewhere along the line we were conned into believing plastic packaging added convenience. Rather than three hand movements to pick up three capsicums, we were led to believe one movement to pick up three shrink-wrapped capsicums on a polystyrene tray was somehow easier. Plastic and other superfluous packaged has become so intertwined in our lives, it’s hard to imagine going without it. However, we are making a start. Many of us are now embracing the keep cup, for instance, rather than walking out of the cafe with a disposable cup with plastic lid.  

To save our environment and its creatures, we need to lead a consumer revolt against needless packaging. No vote is quite as powerful as taking your cash from companies that don’t do the right thing.