11 Mar 2018

James Blackwood: Saying 'bags not' to plastic

From Sunday Morning, 7:47 am on 11 March 2018

Ever left the re-useable bags in the car while you do the supermarket shop?

A campaign is urging shoppers to remember to take their reusable bags to shop.

The Bags Not campaign encourages shoppers to learn new habits. Photo: Alex Wallace

Campaigners on single use plastic bags usually target retailers but the Bags Not initiative is looking to change shoppers’ behaviour.

New Zealanders use 1.6 billion single use plastic bags a year. Countdown supermarket chain will phase out single-use plastic bags by the end of this year and New World has announced the same aim.

James Blackwood, one of the campaign’s creators, says there’s support from some retailers and it’s up to the public to “close the deal”.

“Shoppers have the power … but we are all human and sometimes we need some help to learn new important habits.

“And if shoppers don’t want the bags, shops won’t supply them.”

The campaign has tips for refusing, re-using and recycling and says if you remember only one thing, remember that whatever material your shopping bags are made of, the most important thing is to reuse them as many times as possible.

“If we all use just one less bag per week, that’s 250 million out of circulation in a year.”

Blackwood, from communications agency BCG2, says it’s not about accusing the public of doing the wrong thing, but encouraging people to think about what they’re doing.

The campaign is starting with the single use bag as the ‘poster child’ for plastic pollution – and the hope is that’ll be just the start.

“Once you get your head around not using them and once you get into the habit of using reusable bags you start looking at other plastics in a different light.”