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Six ways to use fewer plastic bags now

Published: 9 January 2018

Did you know that we Kiwis use around 1.6 billion plastic bags a year, and on average a plastic bag is used for only 12 minutes before it enters the waste stream?

Both Countdown and New World have committed to phasing out single-use plastic bags by the end of 2018, a move that has been welcomed by Mayor Phil Goff.  

But why wait? Here are some tips for reducing your reliance on plastic bags of all kinds today.

1. Leave re-usable shopping bags in your car so they’re always on hand

The trick here is putting them back in the car after you’ve unpacked your shopping – try leaving them somewhere you can’t help but spot them, like by the front door, so you grab them on your way out.

2. Kit out your handbag, work drawer, briefcase or anything else you use regularly with at least one reusable bag

Don’t you hate it when you make an impromptu stop at the supermarket and end up using plastic bags? You can get some excellent reusables that scrunch down into a pouch and take up almost no space, so you never have to get caught short again.

3. Think before using plastic bags for fruit and veggies

Do those three apples actually need their own piece of plastic? Think twice before bagging your fruit and veggies, and if you really do need a bag, consider investing in re-usable ones purpose-made to help keep produce fresh.

4. Take your own container to the butcher or meat counter

Check with your local butcher or supermarket and ask if they’ll let you use your own reusable container for meat. Not only do you scrap the plastic bag when it’s being packaged up, but you’ll have peace of mind that you’re using something that won’t leak!

5. Resealable bags aren’t the be all and end all for fridge and freezer

The convenience of slipping cut veges, snacks, leftovers and meat into resealable bags makes for a hard habit to break, but all these could easily go into screw-top or click-top containers instead. Another option is to invest in some re-usable wraps to help keep things fresh.

6. Stop using plastic bags as bin liners

It’s really tempting to stockpile plastic bags from the supermarket to use as bin liners, which then go with your trash to landfill. But did you know this can seriously inhibit waste breaking down, and the bags themselves don’t break down for hundreds of years? Loose bags can also blow off landfill, polluting rivers, beaches and forests. Try lining the bottom of your bin with newspaper instead to prevent waste from sticking.*

*As part of our commitment to reducing plastic waste, Auckland Council has phased out the use of orange plastic rubbish bags in kerbside collections for urban areas, replacing them with wheelie bins.

Read more:

Environment Waste