Ditch the plastic, save the world

On the first of July, Queensland said goodbye to single use plastic bags. Yes, this means you’ll have to find something else to hold your shopping, but don’t panic: it’s a small sacrifice that will make a huge difference to the health of the planet.

For many Australians, the practise of bringing their own reusable shopping bags is a small and very doable way to feel like they’re doing something positive for the planet. But if you still need convincing, here’s a few reasons why you should feel good about getting on board the BYO bag train.

1. Less waste
Each year, Queenslanders use close to 1 billion plastic bags. As we know, these bags can’t go in our regular recycling bins, which means they usually end up as landfill, which is not ideal. The average single-use plastic bag is used for a total of 12 minutes but can take between 20 to 1000 years to break down. Which makes you wonder: for just 12 minutes is it really worth it?

2. Kinder to nature
Those bags that don’t make it to landfill usually find their way into the natural environment, the ocean and our precious waterways. Around 16 million plastic bags end up in Queensland’s natural environment alone, every year. That’s not good. The impact this has on marine life in particular is shocking, with research showing that almost 90 per cent of all seabird species and 30 per cent of sea turtles ingest plastic debris that they often mistake as food. And if that’s not enough to turn you off, in addition to harming wildlife, plastic bags also release toxins into soil and water as they degrade.

3. From little things big things grow
By simply reusing your shopping bags, you’ll be helping reduce Australia’s environmental footprint. Since introducing a plastic bag tax in 2002, Ireland has seen a 95 per cent reduction in plastic bag litter. Similar laws and bans regarding plastic are being (or have been) implemented around the world: Australia is really just catching up. C’mon, we can do this!

4. Plastic to practical
You might have seen REDcycle bins in Woolworths or Coles. Drop your single-use bags and other plastic material in the appropriate bin and it could end up as a park bench thanks to a company called Replas. Plastic is a fantastic building material as it is not affected by water or termites. Replas transforms plastic that would otherwise cause environmental damage into something beneficial to the community, including decking, signage, as well as the fitness equipment you might find at your local park.
So dropping your old plastic bags in a REDcycle bin ensures they’ll end up in the right hands.

What to expect in-centre
Grand Central retailers will offer a range of options to bag up your goods: from recycled reusable plastic and canvas totes to paper bags and other materials. Retailers have also implemented ways to help the community like Cotton OnColes & Woolworths who are donating a portion of sales to different charities or foundations. Others such as Andrews Meats have a free replacement guarantee on their reusable bags and Central Health Foods have taken a more environmentally friendly approach and sell options like 100% cotton Estring bags. To really make a positive impact, the important thing is to reuse, reuse, reuse.

The phase out will undoubtedly take some getting used to, but you can make it easier to remember to BYO bags with these simple tips:
                1. Write 'BAGS' at the top of your shopping lists.
                2. Always stash a few bags in the boot of your car.
                3. Hang your reusable bags near the door so you can grab them on the way out.

Here at Grand Central we are trying to make the process as easy for customers as possible, which means we’ll be providing a limited number of free reusable tote bags, available from selected retailers and customer service in-centre.