Plastic Bag Free Raglan – Pēke Kirihou Kore Whaingaroa launched their campaign this past July, setting out on a mission to create a ‘single-use plastic bag free town’ by July of 2017.
As a seaside town, it is vital for us to care for the water and the surrounding environment that feeds into it. One of the easiest ways this can be done is to limit the amount of single-use rubbish we are creating as a community.
The Whaingaroa Environment Centre, Raglan Chamber of Commerce and Xtreme Zero Waste have long since recognised this and at the end of 2015 came together to establish Plastic Bag Free Raglan [PBFR].
Through surveys conducted within the businesses, PBFR found that although our town might be small, we are using over 800,000 single-use plastic bags per year, with over 20,000 of those bags leaving shops each week of summer alone. As more residents move in and our tourism numbers grow, this number is sure to rise in the coming years.
In an effort to encourage the Whaingaroa-Raglan community to shift their mindset to a ‘single-use shopping bag free town’, Plastic Bag Free Raglan will be gifting a reusable Jute bag to each Raglan household, that can be used whenever residents visit the shops. Delivery will start on Thursday 24th November. The PBFR team hopes to reach as many households around town as they can get to over the coming week.
Included in the bag is a compostable bag. The PBFR team has been researching sustainable solutions for the businesses that currently provide single-use plastic bags, and they hope the shops will shift to using a compostable option in lieu.
Single-use plastic bags are considered valueless when it comes to recycling, and less than half of the bags end up in landfill. An alarming number ‘escape’ into the environment. To make matters worse, plastic is not going to go away anytime soon. It will take years and years for one plastic bag to decompose, and when it does it will leave behind chemical toxins, contaminating whatever area it’s laying in.
The PBFR team and many local residents have collected loose plastic bags from waterways leading into Manu Bay, from the bush areas around town, pulled them from storm drains in the CBD, found them in grassy banks along the harbour and have spent hours picking them from the beach, even digging them out of the sand.
The reusable Jute bag has been funded by Waikato District Council, Meridian Energy, Waikato Regional Council, the Raglan Chamber of Commerce, Raglan Community Board, Whaingaroa Environment Centre and Xtreme Zero Waste, with delivery assistance funding provided by the Raglan Lion’s. A small crew of wonderful volunteers have spent hundreds of hours preparing to get these bags to local households.
Valued at $15, if you want to purchase an extra bag, they will be available at The Herbal Dispensary, Whaingaroa Organic Kai (WOK), Matapihi Art Gallery and on WEC Wednesdays at the Environment Centre.
For updates and more information on Plastic Bag Free Raglan visit plasticbagfreeraglan.nz or follow PBFR on Facebook and Instagram.