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The ethical shopper: Plastic, plastic everywhere

It's not so hard to have a plastic bag-free household.

Plastic bags have been in the news lately. We use 800,000,000 of them in NZ every year.

They're made from unsustainable petrochemicals; 90% are imported; and they're not often recycled (it's not practical or viable to do so), so they often end up in a landfill where they take up precious space and take hundreds of years to break down.

Others block drains and cause problems for bird and sea life (we've had them described as 'urban tumbleweeds').

We've all got drawers full of plastic bags at home we're never going to use. So what to do?

  • Invest in some re-usable cloth bags. Keep one set in your car, a few at home for carrying things to work in, and one folded up in your handbag for those small daily purchases.

  • Try taking your own chiller bags to the supermarket – your groceries will stay cool as a bonus.

  • Buying one or two fruit in the supermarket? Pass on the small tear-off bag – the checkout operators don't mind weighing loose items.

  • If you forget your re-usable bags, ask your packer to use as few bags as possible.

  • Some stores will take bags back for recycling, including The Warehouse, which recycles them here in NZ.

Date modified: April 3 2017
First published: May 2007

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