Single-use plastic is a threat to the environment, and most of us already know that fact. But still, the consumption rate of single-use plastic is very high. Realize it or not, single-use plastic consumption is bigger than multi-use plastic consumption.
The problem is, not so many people are aware of this. Single use plastic consumption is still one of the most effective ways to destroy the environment. The reason is because most single use plastic waste are not processed properly.
To prevent further destruction of nature, some Australian ‘big players’ came up with the idea to ban single use plastic bag. Apparently, this campaign has been so successful that the result has been a surprise for the whole world and became viral in internet.
How could the campaign to ban a single plastic product become viral? In this article we are going to talk about it.
You can be an activist of environment by rescuing injured animals, but if you keep consuming plastic bags every day, your actions in saving the animals might be useless. You will eventually harm those animals again by littering their homes and resources.
Bringing your own shopping bag is apparently one of the most effective way to reduce your plastic consumption. This way, you can say no to single use plastic bags that you usually get from buying stuff in supermarkets. And yes, this is the case with Australia.
Two biggest supermarket chains in the country has been banning the use of plastic bags since three months ago. The result, this campaign has successfully reduced the country’s plastic bag usage by 80% in just 3 months!
Talking about numbers, in average, Australian citizen consume about 3.2 billion bags every year. But since the start of the campaign, Australian citizen has consumed at least 1.5 billion fewer plastic bags in just three walking months.
About half of annual plastic bag consumption has been avoided while it took only three months of efforts to do the campaign. This is just the beginning, so there is a big chance that the percentage will keep on increasing in the future.
How Did They Do That?
The campaign to stop plastic bag consumption was a complex process. It started when one of the biggest supermarket chains in Australia, Woolworth, decided to stop handing plastic bags to customers to fulfil the demands of environmental groups and consumers.
On the other hand, another Australia’s big supermarket chain, Coles, didn’t follow Woolworth’s steps. Instead of stop handing single use plastic bag, they decided to offer free plastic bags to customers. Many Woolworth’s customers that didn’t agree with the chain’s decision decided to go into Coles instead, because of this.
However, after the promotion went success, Coles started to take charge for the plastic bags. Whether it was a campaign to make people realize the environmental cost of plastic bag or merely for profit, hasn’t been clear. But it was an unwise decision since it resulted in the decrease of customers. Even people who converted their choice away from Woolworth started to go back there.
But it was a good thing since the decrease of customers brought Coles into a ‘nothing to lose’ decision. They followed Woolworth’s steps to stop offering free plastic bags to customers. And yes, indeed it was a good decision to bring customers back.
Now, people are beginning to get used to plastic free shopping, thanks to those two big players. “Retailers deserve an enormous amount of kudos for leading the way on one of the most significant changes to consumer behavior in generations and we also applaud shoppers for embracing this environmental initiative,” said David Stout, Manager of Industry Policy at the National Retail Association
According to National Retail Association, just like mentioned above, the campaign hasn’t always run smoothly. Some people objected this campaign since they thought that they need plastic bag for the sake of practicality. However, many others were strongly supporting the campaign, which resulted in the success.
“The decision by certain retailers to no longer offer free single-use plastic carry bags certainly received a hostile response from some shoppers initially, but these retailers deserve credit for dramatically reducing the number of bags in circulation,” said Stout.
But once the numbers were released, worldwide recognition was earned. Furthermore, Stout hopes that smaller retailers can follow the moves of those two big players. “They should be able to consider that strategy without fear of backlash,” he said.
Actually, not only the retailers who are afraid of getting rejection from being good to the earth. Some customers are secretly having the passion but they just can’t express the way they feel about plastic bags.
The supermarkets’ initiative to begin the change was a good thing for those people. Thus, they can just follow the lead to make this world better. In other words, the supermarkets’ initiative to stop offering free plastic bag to those who don’t want or need was like a relief for some people.
Cutting about 80% of annual plastic bag consumption in just three months is an incredible achievement. If only the whole world can do the same thing, we might not need to worry about how plastic is choking this planet anymore.
Looking on the geographic condition of Australia, we can see that they are actually near countries with the biggest single-use plastic use pollution that end up in the ocean, such as Indonesia, China, Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand.
Those countries are responsible for responsible for 9.7 million tons of mismanaged plastic waste. Sharing is caring, so there must be a way to share the country’s achievement and how to achieve it to their neighbors.
If Australia can successfully share it to the neighboring countries, and those countries then continue to share the achievement like a chain letter to other countries, it might be possible for us to finally solve plastic mismanagement and prevent plastic entering our ocean. It all started with a courage to stop giving people unnecessary plastic bags.