Australia took a major step this week by banning all single use plastic bags in four of their six states. It is an interesting case study to see a country stepping up to the challenge of reducing the plastic in our oceans, streets, and landfills. Regardless of politics, the scourge of plastic slowly covering the earth needs to be reduced if we want to avoid being buried in plastic that won’t break down for centuries.
Americans don’t want to be forced into making a decision about what type of bags they can or can’t use, and instead want to bring a reusable bag because they want to. Other countries are taking a more drastic approach of all-out bans because of stronger sentiments on the environment and landfill crises. Unlike most of the United States, Australia sees the effects of plastic pollutants in their wildlife and on the coral reef while the government spends incredible sums sending all recycling to overflowing sites in China.
Many Australian shoppers aware of this ongoing crisis still need to get their groceries. If they are anything like me, sometimes they remember their reusable bags, and sometimes they leave them on the counter at home. With this new law in effect, shoppers are now being forced to convert to a new system rapidly and being punished financially for their forgetfulness. Store goers are understandably frustrated by getting ‘gouged’ at the checkout line when having to buy reusable bags when they already have them at home.
I have been into stores that don’t use reusable plastic bags. Of course, I had forgotten mine because I had popped into the store randomly and ended up buying a reusable bag. The bag carries my books, stuff for the beach, clothes, and of course groceries. Although it is unlikely to see this policy nationwide in the United States anytime soon, it is fascinating to see a country make a drastic change on a nationwide level that will be frustrating for the first few weeks and quickly become a good habit.