Reusable Shopping Bag Madness in Australia


Our poor long suffering Tips Editor keeps sending me tips about some ‘clever’ Australian reusable shopping bag concept. And I don’t find time to post them. Largely because I feel the whole issue has gone off the rails. Yes, Australia consumes around 7 billion disposable bags each year. I abhor it. But now it appears we are headed down a new slippery slope. Everyone, governments included, seem to be offering their own line of reusable shopping bag. There is now even a website, Bagman, that lists, at last count, 17 different suppliers of the things. And it still doesn’t include the likes of EcoEzi and EcoSilk, which sell a similar story. Many, though not all, of these bags are made from nylon, polyester or polypropylene, which will to be with us for the same 500 years, as the very plastic bags they are to suppose replace. The other day I also saw well meaning folk giving away plastic perspex key tags, which are intended to remind people to take their reusable bags with them, when they go shopping! Don’t get me wrong, ‘reuse’ is brilliant, (my day job is running a reuse centre), but we don’t need to buy a raft of new fossil fuel derived bags just to carry home the groceries. Use an existing day pack, a shoulder pack, a duffle bag, etc. Yeh, really reuse. Or ask the store for some of those hundreds of cardboard boxes the goods arrived in initially. And bear in mind there is little environmental gain in using any sort of reusable bag for carrying groceries, if you’ve arrived at the check-out, laden with a basket or trolley filled with fruit and veggies all bagged individually in plastic. It’s not new, innovative reusable shopping bags we need, it’s living thoughtfully.

We’ve covered the ‘Paper or Plastic?’ debate many times before. And how, sick of the inaction by everyone, a small town in Tasmania was galvanised into dropping plastic shopping bags entirely. And soon this spread into a movement all around the country. That at least has been a good thing.