We’re about to take a big step forward in the mission to solve plastic pollution in New Zealand. The nationwide ban on plastic bags officially comes in to force on 1 July. As excited as we are about this, we’re also really aware this change will be difficult for some people and some businesses to come to terms with.
For many of us, plastic bags have been in our lives since birth. We were taught to turn up to a store with nothing but our wallets, and leave with our purchases in free plastic carry bags. Sometimes just one item per bag, or even multiple bags for one item!
We didn’t question it. This is what everyone else did. We learnt from watching others in our community and it became part of our culture.
And then finally, someone started to question the intelligence of the uncontrolled handout of shopping bags – to be used for mere minutes – that were made from a material that doesn’t biodegrade and doesn’t return to the circle of life. If it doesn’t break down, what happens to it?
Well, what an uncomfortable truth that has been.
We now know that plastic bags play a starring role in the plastic pollution crisis. Plastic has been found 10,898m under the ocean at the bottom of the world’s deepest trench, the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench. Plastic has been found in thousands of dead marine animals, and microplastics have even been found in bottled drinking water and on the top of the Pyrénées. The even scarier news is that plastic production is expected to continue to skyrocket, while less than a fifth of all plastic is recycled globally.
As hard as it is to learn that we have all contributed to this crisis, the good news is we now know how to solve it.
And removing plastic bags out of our economy is a big part of this – with such an easy solution: always take a bag shopping!
The hard part is learning new habits, and unlearning the old ones.
Let’s all remember that none of us made the transition to reusable bags overnight. We’ve all been through the various stages of carrying shopping in our arms and pockets, dropping things on the ground, or having to go back to the car while at the checkout. It takes practice to teach yourself a new behaviour – and to make it a habit.
So for those of you who are already in the habit of taking your own bag shopping (most of the time!) we ask that you help those who are just starting their journey. Remember what it was like for you, show those people a healthy dose of empathy, and share with them with the tips and tricks that helped you remember.
And we also ask you to be understanding and supportive of those businesses who need to transition. The best thing you can do is to always take a bag shopping, but there will be businesses around New Zealand, especially smaller family-run businesses, who will find it really difficult, or who may be completely unaware of the new laws. So support your local stores by taking a bag and if necessary, gently let them know about the ban and inform them they are liable to fines of up to $100,000 for breaking the law. For all the information on the new plastic bag laws follow this link.
Download our free posters
We’re really keen to do our bit to help Kiwi businesses make the transition as smoothly as possible, so we’ve put together these artworks. They’re FREE for anyone to download (A4 and A5), print and display.
We got this, New Zealand!