Two 17-year-old Kingsway School students, Raedon Kane and Nat Sharp, would like to see single use plastic bags banned in NZ, but they are starting local, with a view to first having the bags banned on the Hibiscus Coast.
Last month the pair, who started a Facebook page called One Bag At A Time, spoke with Mayor Phil Goff and made a presentation to the Hibiscus & Bays Local Board seeking support for the initiative.
Raedon, who saw the impact of plastic bags in the sea during a dive for Marine Biology class, says at this stage it’s about creating awareness and doing local clean ups, including one last month on Orewa Beach.
Mayor Phil Goff is supportive, having recently joined the Wellington and Dunedin Mayors in a call for a levy on the bags. The Mayors are asking government to impose a national levy on single use plastic bags, or give local authorities the power to do so.
Some businesses already impose a levy that is donated to charity and while this has significantly reduced the numbers of bags used, the stores report, many customers simply pay the charge and continue using the bags.
Raedon and Nat say more action is needed to cut one-trip bag use.
“Although plastic shopping bags make up a small percentage of waste going to landfill, they are light and easily blow about and become waste in waterways, on beaches and around the community,” Nat says. “It’s also about the wastefulness that they represent – a lot of resources go into making them, and they are used on average for 12 minutes before being trashed.”
The students point out that the bags are also non-essential – in most cases there are alternatives, including reusable bags.
“Auckland Council has a goal of zero waste to landfill by 2040 –why wait another 20 years for change? We want the Hibiscus Coast to be a leader in conservation and change.”
After seeing a documentary about the effect of plastics on our oceans, Stephanie Baird of Silverdale, pictured, knew she had to do something to create awareness and reduce plastic use.
She was inspired by Australia’s Boomerang Bags initiative, which is fast going global.
Boomerang Bags provides stores with reusable bags to offer shoppers instead of plastic bags.
Stephanie signed up with the organisation and has held several sewing bees to make bags out of unwanted (but hygienic/new) fabric.
Around 10 locals are on board, sewing bags at home.
At least 100 bags have been made in the last four months; once 500 are ready, Boomerang Bags Hibiscus Coast will approach local businesses to see if they will support the initiative by offering the bags in-store.
Info: look for Boomerang Bags Hibiscus Coast on Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org