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Why this Whole Plastic Bag Situation is Making my Head Hurt


The circus that has exploded in the last 1-2 weeks after the big supermarkets have stopped using single use plastic bags has been flooding my newsfeed, the TV, papers and radio.

And to make matters WAY worse, this afternoon this article popped up: “The Whole World is laughing at us”. I cringed at my desk in horror as I read that newspspers all over the world were running stories on Australia “because we’re throwing giant, howling tantrums over the supermarket plastic bag ban.”

I am one of those people who have been using reusable shopping bags for years. I have a bit of a collection which is great because if I leave bags at home, there are always some still in the car. I have little mesh bags and those bags citrus fruit sometimes come in for my fruit and veg. When I buy a bottle of wine I save the paper bags to reuse at Affordable Wholefoods or Kombu Wholefoods when I buy in bulk.

The images and statistics of how fast and furiously we are destroying the environment is ridiculous. I can’t imagine what our kids and grandkids will say to us in the next 10, 20, 30 years when it becomes apparent just how much we’ve damaged the environment in our current throwaway society.

So something like banning single use bags should be accompanied by celebration, by cheering and congratulating ourselves for taking “small steps to make big changes”. But instead we are seeing new terms being thrown around such as “plastic bag rage” and the result is a backflip by supermarkets like Woolworth’s now giving 15 cent “reusable” plastic bags out for free (until the 8th July anyway).

How about we NOT ban single use plastic bags. We BAN plastic bags full stop. The 15 cent bags are still made of plastic. They are still being use as bin liners (I witnessed this myself at my friend’s house yesterday! I was horrified!) And while we are at it ban the Woolworths & Coles “green” bags. They’re made from polypropylene and are not biodegradable, but end up breaking down into micro plastics and have the same environmental impact as plastic bags.

So what’s the best reusable bag? I found this article interesting which discusses the pros and cons of various reusable bags. There is another great article on “Oh So Busy Mum” which discusses even more options for grocery shopping bags.

Last week I asked the question on the Coffs for Kids Facebook pageWhat reusable bags do you use and where did you get them?

There were some really fantastic comments, here are some highlights & tips:

  • Keep a small folded bag or two in your handbag for those quick trips to the shop to grab milk & bread.
  • Make some fruit & vegetable bags out of curtain netting remnants.
  • Boomerang Bags is a local community group who run sewing bees to make, sew and sell bags made out of recycled material. The next one is 5th Click here to find out more.

  • Local Mum, Just Joyce says “We made ours from some beautiful linen tea towels that we scored at an opshop. The tea towels still had their tags on them. They are perfect grocery bag size, folded in half and sewn, then the base is sewn in (simple triangle), and handles of cotton bias tape (which was wrapped about a set of tea towels that I purchased). I’ve also made bags from fat quarters from Spotlight.”
  • Diana says: “I have variety of reusable bags collected over the last 20 years still going strong, calico, cotton, hessian, these last way longer than the woolies and coles $1 or $2 ones, but my favourites are the EcoSilk bags bought at Go Vita 5 years ago. Lightweight but super strong & easy to wash. Winning!”
  • Keep an eye out for reusable bags for sale where the proceeds go to a charity, then you are doubly helping!
  • DON’T “resuable” bags at the supermarket! Instead, support local business such as:



Local Mum, Trish can colour print on calico bags, there are different shapes, sizes and styles to choose from. Available in any quantity.

Harley B

Visit “craftsy” where you can purchase & download the “market day tote” pattern. The pattern is designed to be quick and easy, perfect for beginners and uses just 1m of fabric.

Kristina will be hosting a Market Bag Tote Workshop at Stitches by the Sea on Moonee St later this month. Check the Facebook event for more information.

Totes Green

Local Mum, Megan. makes and sells reusable cotton muslin produce bags as well as lined cotton tote bags for lugging home your shopping.

Homemade and Sew Cute

Handmade reusable bags using the same pattern as the plastic single use bags. They are gorgeous & fit heaps in them.

Eco Diet – Sustainable Living Education & Solutions

Another local business that sells heaps of sustainable living products such as reusable bags such as jute, hessian upcycled ones made from old clothes. The jute ones are really good quality.

Happy Frog

Sells great reusable bags and gorgeous shopping baskets.

Each Peach

Bellingen based Mum is about to add to her range of essential oil bags and make some reusable shopping bags.

Nourished Earth

Has a range of reusable fruit & veg bags + reusable bamboo straws and other eco-friendly items.

Go Vita

Sell Ecosilk bags which are SO fantastic. I’ve used these for years. They fit so much and seem to be indestructible! They are easy to wash and best of all fold up really small, easily squished in small spaces!

Support these local businesses who support a plastic free July. All are committed to having a plastic free month, some of them are even banning plastic for good!

If you are a local business or individual who wants to find out how to get involved and raise awareness, visit the Our Living Coast website – there is heaps of great information and resources. You can also follow them on Facebook for events and news.

Finally, if you want to find out more about “going green” and more local businesses who can help you do this, read this article written last year by Megan Jones – “Guest Post: The War on Waste Coffs Harbour”.


Categories : Alison's Blog

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