Coromandel Town really got behind their plastic bag-free Friday on 6 April. Local retailers all put away the plastic bags for the day. And they stuck to their guns too. The hardware store/garden centre even lost a sale as they refused to give a customer a plastic bag. Now that’s dedication!
To prepare customers, the organisers put posters up around town, had information in the local paper, plus radio coverage and Facebook posts to community pages in the lead-up to the day.
Organisers spoke to all the retailers beforehand. Replacement paper bags were provided for customers as an alternative to plastic bags on the day. Four Square were amazing, printing and displaying huge posters about the day, they supplied their own paper bags and used a lot of boxes as well. They even removed the plastic produce bags.
Although paper bags are not the answer, this event opened the eyes of many retailers to the fact they often don’t need to supply a bag at all. Many shops actually gave out very few paper bags on the day as people brought their own reusable bags or just said “Bags Not”. And customers really started talking and thinking about the role of plastic bags. There was a stall set up outside Four Square where upcycled fabric bags were made available for a koha and about a hundred of them were distributed to the public.
The moral of the story? Engage the retailers, engage the shoppers, provide easy alternatives to single-use plastic bags and give loads of positive support to all the wonderful people who go plastic bag-free.
What a difference a day makes. Well done Coromandel Town!
Article and photos by Dr Kate James, Marine Scientist.
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