HELP MAKE MORELAND PLASTIC BAG FREE

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by Charlotte Pordage

 

Brunswick local Dale Martin, 27, is urging all Moreland residents to get behind his campaign to make the area a plastic bag-free zone by the end of the year.

 

While Mr Martin has always advocated for the removal of plastic bags, he was surprised to find that not everyone shared his concern.

 

“In late March I walked five blocks in every direction from my house, counting the plastic bags as I went. After getting to over 50 in about 20 minutes I thought it was time to really look at this issue as a community,” he said.

 

“I’m a fairly practical person and it seems quite logical that just by bringing my bag to the supermarket I can avoid contributing to the 50 million plastic bags that end up as litter each year. These bags block storm water drains, cause waterway and habitat disruption and are consumed by native wildlife. Aside from this, they cost businesses money to supply and the taxpayer money to clean up,” Martin added.

 

Following the plastic bag count and some encouraging discussions with friends and neighbours, Mr Martin decided to take action and set up a Facebook group in mid-April to launch a campaign within the Moreland community.

 

While single-use plastic bags have already been banned in Tasmania, Canberra, South Australia and the Northern Territory, Victoria has been slow to act and Mr Martin hopes that Moreland could pave the way for the rest of the state.”

 

Since then, Mr Martin and a small group of passionate individuals have been working tirelessly to spread the word, and the response so far looks promising.

 

“I haven’t spoken to anyone in the community yet who has been against the idea. Generally people either want to help on the campaign trail or end up sending me an email a few weeks later telling me how they have cut plastic bags out of their life. It’s actually quite motivating hearing that we are making an impact at these early stages,” he said.

 

The campaign team will be implementing a variety of strategies over the coming months, including community bag design competitions, educational activities for schools and the introduction of “boomerang bags”, which can be borrowed and returned from bins located across the municipality. One of their main priorities is to help facilitate the transition to reusable bags for businesses, who often struggle with where to start.

 

While single-use plastic bags have already been banned in Tasmania, Canberra, South Australia and the Northern Territory, Victoria has been slow to act and Mr Martin hopes that Moreland could pave the way for the rest of the state.

 

“I am proud of my community and believe Moreland is really at the forefront as a progressive multicultural society. I really want to make Moreland the inspiration and role model for other Victorian communities to take action,” he commented.

 

“If this campaign can inspire and assist other communities across Victoria, then I don’t see why state-wide legislation could not be rolled out as well. It’s important to realise that the other states are now also moving on this issue. We are seeing the Queensland Government look into a state-wide ban and in New South Wales, over 12,000 signatures were recently produced to MPs,” Mr Martin said.

 

Moreland plastic bags - Rod Ceballos v4 WEB

 

The campaign will run until lightweight plastic bags have been banned completely from the municipality, with the current target set at December 2015. Plastic Bag Free Moreland has gained the support of several Moreland councillors, particularly Cr Thompson and Cr Ratnam, and the council has already moved to receive a report outlining options to ban lightweight plastic shopping bags.

 

Mr Martin advises all Northsiders to get involved with the initiative in whatever way they can.

 

“We encourage all members of the community to have a conversation with businesses and associations they are part of. You can also make a really big impact by picking up the pen and writing to the council and our elected members of parliament,” he said.

 

For further information, visit https://www.facebook.com/plasticbagfreemoreland.

 

 

Charlotte Pordage is a freelance writer/editor from the UK. When she’s not editing the Local News section, she can be found riding her horse Oscar and exploring Melbourne’s eclectic nightlife. @charpordage

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