Reusable bags don’t solve the pollution crisis unless they're ethically made from sustainable and natural fibres.
I’ve always been a bit of a bra-burner. I’m the kind of woman who stands up against injustice, I advocate for equality, and I champion ethics. I’m also vocal (with my friends and family) about my opinion of our government and how much they're not doing to solve the pollution crisis.
I don’t ever write about politics, but I couldn’t help myself with this story. It’s not too deep don't worry, so if you’re still reading after I dropped the word ‘politics’, give me two more minutes.
I recently received a reusable bag on behalf of Sustainability Victoria to help promote the launch of its new campaign, Better Bag Habits. The Victorian Government’s legislative ban on lightweight, single-use plastic bags is scheduled to take effect at the end of 2019, so in the lead-up, Better Bag Habits encourages Victorians to rethink their current bad bag behaviour.
That’s all fabulous, but the campaign bugs me for two reasons. Why are we waiting until the end of next year to ban plastic bags when we know that humans are already consuming microplastic fibres through our food and water? Why is the reusable bag I received made from polypropylene?
The campaign idea is excellent, but the execution is abysmal. The bag I received, is made from polypropylene, a type of plastic, and it’s made in China no less. If 'international shipping' were a country, it’d be the sixth most polluting country, so this bag has already racked up a few carbon miles, even before I’ve started using it.
Polypropylene bags (the reusable ones you find at Woolworths and Coles) also require more material and energy to produce than standard single-use plastic bags, and they need to be used 104 times before they even make a difference. It is highly unlikely that I would be able to do that though because most of these ‘reusable polypropylene bags’ are made so poorly that they’re lucky to last six months.
I’m not quite sure how this plastic bag solves the problem of another plastic bag, but I have to give brownie points to Sustainability Victoria for getting Sam Simmons involved. I'm a big fan.
Sam's catchy ‘Bag, Wallet, Keys and Phone’ gag is raising much-needed awareness, and no doubt it'll get stuck in your head and force you to rethink your plastic habits.
If you’re really going to make a difference with a reusable bag though, find one that has been ethically made from sustainable and natural fibres like calico, wool, hemp or linen.
The Fashion Advocate x
Hey Glenda! I agree with you. Plastic packaging in supermarkets is out of control. You can’t buy cherry tomatoes, strawberries or blueberries without the plastic. Now they’re wrapping organic produce in plastic, which is counter-productive! I don’t buy shampoo and conditioner for that very reason, I just use lemon juice (from my lemon tree!) and bicarb soda (which comes in a box). It never ends!
The problem, in my view, is not the bags. It’s all the packaged stuff in the supermarket – it annoys the hell out of me that Woollies even pack their organic produce in plastic. Not to mention the shampoos, conditioners, vitamins, nuts, coffee, blah blah blah. We need to do what the Japanese are doing and processing plastic into a usable product, like fuel. Or turning it into building blocks for cheap housing like they’re doing in South American countries.