Give plastic-free a go this July

Global awareness month encourages people to refuse single-use plastic in July.

Global awareness month encourages people to refuse single-use plastic in July.

PLASTIC FEE KAUPAPA: Dr Nicky Solomon (left) and Katy Wallace, members of Plastic Bag Free Tairawhiti, with one of their reusable bag last year, surrounded by wearable plastic bags from the Ngati Porou Pa Wars. Picture by Rebecca Grunwell

TAIRAWHITI businesses, schools, families, individuals the entire community are being encouraged to do their bit for the environment and give the plastic-free lifestyle a go this July.

The global awareness month encourages people to refuse single-use plastic during July.

Plastic Bag Free Tairawhiti (PBFT) is behind a range of local initiatives to raise awareness encourage action about plastic issues.

PBFT’s Dr Nicky Solomon said since last July, when they launched their campaign, public awareness has steadily increased.

“Most people now understand that plastic degrades into microplastics, which are consumed by animals and enter the food chain, or it simply continues to exist in its original form for hundreds of years, polluting our lands and waterways.”

By 2050 it is estimated there could be more plastic in the ocean than fish, and more microplastic than stars.

While some plastics can be recycled it is mostly downcycled (made into low grade product for just one more use) or sent to landfill.

Affecting marine life

Plastic can easily blow away and end up in waterways and the ocean where it has a devastating affect on marine life.

In New Zealand the campaign to phase out single use plastic bags by introducing a levy has been gaining momentum.

About half of the country’s mayors support the levy idea, including Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon.

While eliminating all single-use plastic can be a bit daunting, Dr Solomon says people can try the “big four”: single-use plastic bags, single-use plastic bottles, coffee cup lids and straws.

These are some of the most commonly-found items in beach clean-ups, and also the easiest to eliminate.

In Dr Solomon’s household they have approached it gradually, first using reusable bags, coffee cups and bottles, and recently using reusable metal straws.

The group aims to raise awareness, and encourage people to change their behaviour and start questioning the use of plastic, including through their wallets.

“We can’t wait for politicians to make the changes, we need to do it ourselves. Change our behaviour around what we purchase, and asking questions of businesses about how much plastic they use,” she said.

Already several businesses in Gisborne have made moves to reduce plastic usage.

The Dome Cinema has stopped using plastic straws, several shops charge for plastic bags, and several cafes discourage lids on takeaway cups and offer discounts for those using reusable cups.

PBFT has organised events throughout Plastic Free July

24-hour bag-a-thon

On Friday, July 14, at Ka Pai Kaiti in Kaiti mall from 3pm is a 24-hour bag-a-thon to make free reusable shopping bags for the Gisborne community to use instead of single-use plastic bags.

PBFT is looking for an army of helpers, including people with sewing machines, scissors or just willing hands.

People are encouraged to join in for an hour, a shift or an all-nighter, learn their “Kamikaze patchwork” technique, make a bag or four, and have some fun.

There will be bag challenges, coffee, food and laughs throughout the 24 hours.

The group needs fabric and clean, used clothes (not tee-shirts) to make the bags. Drop it to Ka Pai Kaiti at Kaiti Mall or contact wearepbft@gmail.com

Movie night

On Wednesday, July 26, at 6.00pm is a free screening of A Plastic Ocean at Odeon multiplex. A Plastic Ocean explores 20 locations over four years documenting the fragile state of the world’s oceans, uncovering alarming truths about plastic pollution, and revealing working solutions that can be put into immediate effect. The event is sponsored by Odeon Multiplex Gisborne and the Gisborne District Council, and promoted by PBFT.
Odeon Theatre, 79 Gladstone Road. Secure your tickets

Information displays

There will be a display at the HB Williams Memorial Library, 53 Awapuni Road, from June 27 to July 23.

The display will explain the issues around plastic waste, and provide information about the campaign to phase out single-use plastic bags and Plastic Free July events.

PBFT will also be situated outside supermarkets, the farmers market and at the Wahine Surf Film Festival this Saturday at the Dome.

How to be (almost) plastic free

While completely eliminating plastic from waste streams can be very difficult, PBFT recommend people at least try to tackle the big four:

  • Plastic bags: simply say “no thank you” in the store and bring a reusable one. PBFT have launched a campaign to phase out single-use plastic bags in the region and are encouraging businesses to get on board.
  • Plastic straws: again, simply don't use one. Or if you must, use a paper one or get a metal reusable straw.
  • Plastic bottles: avoid using the bottles and get a reusable one for water.
  • Plastic tops from takeaway cups: get a reusable coffee cup, or if you don't have one, ask for a coffee without the plastic top.
  • <<<

TAIRAWHITI businesses, schools, families, individuals the entire community are being encouraged to do their bit for the environment and give the plastic-free lifestyle a go this July.

The global awareness month encourages people to refuse single-use plastic during July.

Plastic Bag Free Tairawhiti (PBFT) is behind a range of local initiatives to raise awareness encourage action about plastic issues.

PBFT’s Dr Nicky Solomon said since last July, when they launched their campaign, public awareness has steadily increased.

“Most people now understand that plastic degrades into microplastics, which are consumed by animals and enter the food chain, or it simply continues to exist in its original form for hundreds of years, polluting our lands and waterways.”

By 2050 it is estimated there could be more plastic in the ocean than fish, and more microplastic than stars.

While some plastics can be recycled it is mostly downcycled (made into low grade product for just one more use) or sent to landfill.

Affecting marine life

Plastic can easily blow away and end up in waterways and the ocean where it has a devastating affect on marine life.

In New Zealand the campaign to phase out single use plastic bags by introducing a levy has been gaining momentum.

About half of the country’s mayors support the levy idea, including Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon.

While eliminating all single-use plastic can be a bit daunting, Dr Solomon says people can try the “big four”: single-use plastic bags, single-use plastic bottles, coffee cup lids and straws.

These are some of the most commonly-found items in beach clean-ups, and also the easiest to eliminate.

In Dr Solomon’s household they have approached it gradually, first using reusable bags, coffee cups and bottles, and recently using reusable metal straws.

The group aims to raise awareness, and encourage people to change their behaviour and start questioning the use of plastic, including through their wallets.

“We can’t wait for politicians to make the changes, we need to do it ourselves. Change our behaviour around what we purchase, and asking questions of businesses about how much plastic they use,” she said.

Already several businesses in Gisborne have made moves to reduce plastic usage.

The Dome Cinema has stopped using plastic straws, several shops charge for plastic bags, and several cafes discourage lids on takeaway cups and offer discounts for those using reusable cups.

PBFT has organised events throughout Plastic Free July

24-hour bag-a-thon

On Friday, July 14, at Ka Pai Kaiti in Kaiti mall from 3pm is a 24-hour bag-a-thon to make free reusable shopping bags for the Gisborne community to use instead of single-use plastic bags.

PBFT is looking for an army of helpers, including people with sewing machines, scissors or just willing hands.

People are encouraged to join in for an hour, a shift or an all-nighter, learn their “Kamikaze patchwork” technique, make a bag or four, and have some fun.

There will be bag challenges, coffee, food and laughs throughout the 24 hours.

The group needs fabric and clean, used clothes (not tee-shirts) to make the bags. Drop it to Ka Pai Kaiti at Kaiti Mall or contact wearepbft@gmail.com

Movie night

On Wednesday, July 26, at 6.00pm is a free screening of A Plastic Ocean at Odeon multiplex. A Plastic Ocean explores 20 locations over four years documenting the fragile state of the world’s oceans, uncovering alarming truths about plastic pollution, and revealing working solutions that can be put into immediate effect. The event is sponsored by Odeon Multiplex Gisborne and the Gisborne District Council, and promoted by PBFT.
Odeon Theatre, 79 Gladstone Road. Secure your tickets

Information displays

There will be a display at the HB Williams Memorial Library, 53 Awapuni Road, from June 27 to July 23.

The display will explain the issues around plastic waste, and provide information about the campaign to phase out single-use plastic bags and Plastic Free July events.

PBFT will also be situated outside supermarkets, the farmers market and at the Wahine Surf Film Festival this Saturday at the Dome.

How to be (almost) plastic free

While completely eliminating plastic from waste streams can be very difficult, PBFT recommend people at least try to tackle the big four:

  • Plastic bags: simply say “no thank you” in the store and bring a reusable one. PBFT have launched a campaign to phase out single-use plastic bags in the region and are encouraging businesses to get on board.
  • Plastic straws: again, simply don't use one. Or if you must, use a paper one or get a metal reusable straw.
  • Plastic bottles: avoid using the bottles and get a reusable one for water.
  • Plastic tops from takeaway cups: get a reusable coffee cup, or if you don't have one, ask for a coffee without the plastic top.
  • <<<
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Mary-Ann de Kort - 5 months ago
My groceries go into cloth re-useable bags and I don't use the plastic bags. I even put some of my veges into the trolley without a small plastic bag - this only works if I buy a few of each product eg three carrots or a bunch of celery.
I wish it was all that easy to get rid of unnecessary plastic packaging but I fear that food manufacturers, milk and water bottlers, cleaning product and health product makers etc have not heeded the calls for less plastic.
Why three layers and why do the bottles of laundry detergents and drinks need to be such thick plastic?
Surely a supermarket could provide paper bags to put loose produce in and they could refuse to stock goods packaged in excessive amounts of plastic? There is more plastic surrounding food and other goods than can be found in several plastic supermarket bags.
If they did that, I would actually believe they have a commitment to the reduction of plastic waste instead of adding to the already excessive NZ grocery prices.

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