Plastic Free Noosa

Good news for the environment is in the bag – or, rather, not in the bag!

Under new State Government laws, lightweight plastic shopping bags will be banned across Queensland from 1st July 2018.  All retailers – including those selling on-line – are affected by the change and the National Retail Association has been working with members to ease the transition. If you own a business, find out more here.

It’s a welcome move, given these sobering statistics… in Queensland, we use 1 billion lightweight plastic bags each year with 16 million ending up as litter – finding their way into land and marine environments.

Students from Sunshine Beach State High School know that only too well. They’re the first school in the Noosa region to begin regular rubbish sweeps of their local beach. The students are finding much more than plastic bags – there’s plenty of discarded, single-use plastic items washing up or being dumped on the beach.  And a scourge that’s much harder to see:  tiny pieces of broken plastic, or micro-plastic, hidden in the sand. Micro-plastic is a major environmental problem because it easily gets into the marine food chain.

Reducing plastic at the source is the aim of another community campaign in Noosa. Plastic Free Noosa works with local businesses – cafes, restaurants, markets and events – to help them transition away from the 6 big, single-use plastic offenders. They are plastic bags, take-away containers, take-away cutlery, coffee cups and straws. Consultants then help the businesses find eco-friendly replacements to offer their customers – items that are either fully recyclable or compostable.

Businesses that eradicate all six single-use plastics earn the title of Plastic Free Champion. Aroma’s Café in Noosa’s Hastings Street is well on the way to bagging the accolade – introducing paper straws as well as wooden cutlery and compostable coffee cups to go.  And, of course, lightweight plastic bags are gone too.

There are plenty of reusable carry bag alternatives in the retail space – but some are stand-outs. Boomerang Bags is a community movement that started on the Gold Coast and has spread world-wide. In Noosaville, a very active chapter has been creating reusable bags from discarded and donated fabric for the past 3 years. The bags were originally intended to ‘boomerang’ – borrowed then returned to the same retailer. But the bright and beautiful bags have been such a hit, they’re now for sale in retailers across the Noosa region – for just a gold coin or two.

The Source Bulk Foods at Noosa Junction was the first store to back the campaign – a perfect fit for a business that promotes zero-waste. And iconic events – like the Noosa Triathlon – have lent their support to the reuseable bag revolution. Organisers donated the event’s colourful banners which have been recycled into one-of-a-kind Boomerang Bags.

Head here for 10 tips by Boomerang Alliance on how to reduce single-use plastic.