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Council says: ‘Ban the bag!'

Take the plastic-free pledge this month and swap items such as disposable coffee cups, shopping bags and straws for reusable alternatives… you might be surprised where it will take you.

Plastic-free living is about eliminating single-use and semi-disposable plastic items from your life, with many people who become committed also weeding out other plastic items over time, such as choosing natural materials over polyester fabric.

In time for July, Northern Beaches Council has launched a multifaceted campaign to wipe out single-use plastics on the Northern Beaches and provide more support for local businesses and the community to change behaviours.

Northern Beaches Council Administrator Dick Persson is also lobbying State and Federal governments and major supermarkets to bring about sustainable change, such as a total ban on plastic bags.

Council plans to implement two new policies that will change the way the organisation, employees, agents, lessees and contractors consume SUPs.

A Single Use Plastics Policy will drastically reduce the procurement of plastics and help the community to live without them. Anyone planning to hold an event on Council land will need to procure sustainable alternatives to plastics too as they will be banned under the Event Management Policy.

Council’s 1800 staff will also make the switch to reusable cups for their morning coffees.

Also, Council has a great line-up of plastic-free events including pop-up info sessions with theatre performers at the Beaches Market at Pittwater Park on Fridays June 30 and July 21.

Take the lead from local Sarah Tait who decided to live without plastic for a year and share her experience on a blog (wanderlightly.com) after being confronted with sea pollution in Tonga.

Almost three years on the habit has stuck, with Sarah reporting her “lighter” approach to life has transformed her.

It has also influenced others, such as members of the northern beaches-based youth environmental conservation organisation The Green Team who regularly join forces with other like-minded groups to clean beaches, host sustainability events, workshops and screenings targeting younger community folk.

The Green Team also shares its youthful enthusiasm with the ladies behind Avalon Boomerang Bags, regularly joining the workshops at Sew Craft Cook, helping to create the reusable bags for distribution (check out Avalon Map on page 49 to see where you can find – and importantly – return Boomerang Bags).

Avalon Boomerang Bags recently celebrated its first anniversary, reporting more than 7,000 hand-made and donated bags have been borrowed in Avalon alone, saving almost half a million plastic bags from going into landfill.

They say almost 75 per cent of Avalon retailers are single use plastic bag-free.

Already many local businesses through-out Pittwater are increasingly doing their bit to reduce plastic, with many baristas happy to fill 'keep cups', cafes shunning plastic straws and retailers making an effort to reduce packaging.

Russell Lamb, founder of Northern beaches born business ecodownunder, is always looking at ways the company can further minimise its environmental footprint.

Russell and the team have been trialling various ways to reduce plastic use and utilise eco-friendly packaging since launching his first earth-friendly bed and bath shop in Mona Vale in 2003.

He said the Plastic Free July campaign nudged them to review their efforts to date.

“The plastic-free journey is not easy,” Russell said.

Especially when you are part of a manu-facturing and supply chain that requires products to be protected against the elements.

Nevertheless, ecodownunder has taken several positive steps in-store to reduce plastic.

“People don’t seem to mind buying their towels unwrapped, however it’s a completely different story when it comes to sheets,” Russell explained.

So, after a few trials and errors, some products now come protected in an ‘alternative plastic’ packaging.

“Customers are also offered the opportunity to unwrap products in store so we can recycle packaging and we offer free cotton shopping bags,” Russell said.

– Lisa Offord


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