It is an amazing statistic that so many people just don’t know about the issues that plastic bags and plastics cause. The world has a major problem, we hand out plastic bags too easily. You walk into a major supermarket and not only do they give them out for free, they give you one for every 5 items. Worse still they double bag when you have a couple of bottles of milk. We simply buy bottled water like it is going out of fashion without realising the consequences the plastic bottles have for our health and our environment.
The major message of our plastic crusade is to raise awareness of the damage plastic bags and plastics do to our environment. Each and every time I talk to someone about it or show them images of dead wildlife, the message lives with them forever, so it is important that we make sure that people hear this message.
The major sector we focus on are school children. It is paramount that we educate our next generation so that they can start protecting our environment in their early years and not learn bad habits. They are also a great influence on older generations. Our team regularly talk at schools of the issues and leave the children with projects such as going home and clearing out the draw full of plastic bags and taking them back to the supermarket for recycling or putting their green bags in the boot of the car rather than at home where they are forgotten. Some students have even written letters to their prime minister asking them to ban plastic bags.
We run an interactive program with schools where classes log into our website and participate in lessons to learn about what is in the oceans and what is happening environmentally. Each lesson takes approximately 30-45 mins.
Our other focus is on the marine market. We are the users of the ocean, it is our playground and for some it is our office. If we don’t look after our wildlife we will empty our oceans and that will kill tourism and a natural source of food. To make our impact we have a campaign known as OC Racing. In 2010 our founder Ian Thomson set a new world record for sailing solo around Australia. He used this campaign to raise awareness of the issue. On his sail he had the image of a plastic bag with a red circle and cross through it with the worlds NO PLASTIC BAGS written below it. The response to Ian’s campaign was excellent. In 2011 fellow ocean campaigner and Ocean Crusader Ambassador Bruce Arms broke Ian’s record also raising vital awareness of the campaign and the issues faced.
Pollution is our problem and we need to address it. You can help by simply not using plastic bags, refusing to buy bottled water and telling your friends why. If you had seen one the dead turtles Ian has picked up, you too would stop the use of plastics immediately.
Images of our marine creatures on beaches, covered in oil, strangled in nets or choked on rubbish are all too common. Then there is our reef, especially the Great Barrier Reef, dying as the world is warming up.
We as humans can do something daily to stop this, it just takes a bit of pre-thought. It can be as simple as not using plastic bags when you go shopping. Use the green bags, it is better as they carry more and it means our turtles won’t eat them when they float in our ocean looking like their favourite source of food, being jelly fish.
Ian once saw a turtle that had a plastic bag for a stomach. It had formed perfectly in its stomach that the opening was at it’s throat and no product was able to get to the digestive system. The turtle starved to death. The contents of that bag included 12 cigarette butts, a bottle cap and part of a coke can.
Sea Turtles Don’t Shop!
Over 100,000 marine animals DIE every year from PLASTIC entanglement!
Plastic bags are:
- Made from petroleum, a nonrenewable resource.
- A serious litter problem since they are lightweight and hard to contain (blow around).
- Non-biodegradable, breaking into smaller particles BUT never fully disappearing.
- Mistaken for food by marine animals (particularly sea turtles).
- One of the most numerous items of litter along with cigarette butts and Styrofoam.
- A major part of waste in our landfills.
“I’m the problem, I’m the solution”
It’s a global thing!
Bangladesh : Polythene plastic bags have been banned completely – the government is promoting bags made of jute, a natural fiber.
Ireland : Individual consumers are required to pay a 15c tax per plastic bag – this has resulted in an estimated 90% reduction in plastic bag use in the first year.
Italy: A complete ban on single use plastic bags in place as of January 1st 2010. Previously the world’s largest users of plastic bags.
Taiwan and South Africa : Both countries prohibit the thinner plastic bags – this encourages people to bring their own bags since retailers can’t afford to provide the more expensive, thicker plastic bags for free.
USA: Most parts of California have now banned plastic bags
The leatherback turtle can keep itself warm in cold water, dive over 1000 meters below sea level, travel thousands of miles and gulp down a Portuguese man-of-war but is threatened by the inert plastic shopping bag” – Mrosovky, N. 1987.
Plastics, like diamonds, are forever
Clean Oceans make us all winners
- Bring your own cloth bag.
- Ask for paper bag (holds 5 to 6 times more than a plastic bag).
- Ask your merchant to promote cloth bags (charge for plastic or provide incentives for cloth).
- Encourage development of bags made from natural products such as cornstarch and soy.
- Write your elected officials regarding the hazards of plastic bags.
- Participate in a community/beach cleanup.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
- Buy your drinks in glass or aluminum containers (75% of aluminum cans are recycled only 36% of plastic bottles)
- Bring your own mug or cup
- Reuse plastic utensils and containers
- Make plastic bags into jump ropes, rugs, and hats
Plastic Bottle Reduction Campaign
Our endeavour is to promote stainless steel water bottles that people can use time and time again, saving hundreds, if not thousands of plastic water bottles being consumed. We have produced a range of bottles that are available at our Eco-Store
Compostible Plastics Campaign
If we need to use plastics we need to make them compostible. We are currently researching with several bio-plastic companies the ways in which we can make compostible plastics more affordable and more available. A range from Bio-Bag is available at our Eco-Store