With the clock ticking down to the ban on single use plastic bags by major supermarket chains Coles and Woolworths, we were encouraged by news they were also going to stop selling plastic straws and reduce the packaging on fresh vegetables and meat.
It is an absurdity of modern life so many basic things we need to survive are packaged in plastic and other non-degradable wrapping.
It was not always this way.
Those among us who were growing up in the 1960s and 1970s will remember how we were sent to school with our sandwiches wrapped in paper and carried in a brown paper bag. Raisins were packed in small cardboard boxes, ice creams were wrapped in paper.
We were sent to the shops with string bags to pick up milk either in bottles or cardboard cartons. We bought butter wrapped in paper and vegetables that were loose. Soft drinks came in glass bottles. If they were delivered to the home, like the milk bottles, they were picked up again and reused.
And we had more choice about where we could shop. There was a butcher, a baker and a greengrocer and none of them wrapped their products in plastic.
If we did go to a supermarket, our groceries were packed in tough brown paper bags. Once used, these bags were then recycled; they covered school textbooks, collected kitchen scraps which then went into the compost, or were used to wrap lunches.
Somewhere along the line we were conned into believing plastic packaging added convenience. Rather than three hand movements to pick up three capsicums, we were led to believe one movement to pick up three shrink-wrapped capsicums on a polystyrene tray was somehow easier.
Plastic and other superfluous packaging has become so intertwined in our lives, it’s hard to imagine going without it. However, we are making a start. Many of us are now embracing the keep cup, for instance, rather than walking out of the cafe with a disposable cup with plastic lid.
To save our environment and its creatures, we need to lead a consumer revolt against needless packaging. No vote is quite as powerful as taking your cash from companies that don’t do the right thing.
If the big supermarket chain doesn’t protect the environment, shop at the local store which does. You’ll help the planet and the local economy.