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Single use plastic is akin to the scourge of smoking

March 29, 2018
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I don’t think I’m overstating it when I say that the scourge of single use plastics have become akin to the scourge of smoking. We know how dangerous it is, yet our addiction to it is hard to kick. And instead of suffocating ourselves, we’re suffocating the planet.

PHOTO: Bassendean Councillor Sarah Quinton

READ SARAH'S MOTION HERE

I don’t think I’m overstating it when I say that the scourge of single use plastics have become akin to the scourge of smoking. We know how dangerous it is, yet our addiction to it is hard to kick. And instead of suffocating ourselves, we’re suffocating the planet.

Still, I had no qualms moving this motion to kick the habit within my little patch of the planet called Bassendean.

My main driver was a little voice in my head, my son. Two years old now, but when he’s 32, I would not forgive myself if he ever asked what I did to stop all this plastic in our environment when we had the chance. When we knew how much it was strangling our oceans and rivers, and yet we did nothing.

So I did this.

The second driver was the daily reminder on social media filling my feeds with waves of waste, plastic choker necklaces on sea mammals and ingested shards inside the guts of seabirds, films of plastic covering acres of landscape, and mountains of filthy rubbish growing at criminal rates.

It’s pretty disgusting and I am ashamed.

There’s a level of compassion fatigue some people can’t manage. I’ve got it. So I channelled it into something I could do, and I’ll be darned if I’m going to waste this opportunity as a councillor to make this difference.

I cannot forget the many and varied conversations I have had with my community about this through doorknocking, community events, workshops, and chats in the street. They elected me for this reason.

I don’t profess to be puritanical when it comes to living a plastic free life but I do what I can. I use a keep cup and carry water in a metal bottle. I separate my food scraps for my neighbour’s chooks so I don’t need a plastic liner in my bin. I won’t accept plastic cutlery unless I have to so my kid can eat, and I keep my fruit and vegies loose in the trolley. But frig it’s hard. We can all only do what we can.

But as much or as little as I do, businesses, shops, vendors, and even our little town can do better as well.

It’s a collective effort about changing behaviours and habits. For some, the plastic nicotine patch will be a bitter hit, but losing customers who are trying to live plastic free is just bad business.

This motion was something I had been thinking about for a while. I knew that a complete ban wouldn’t work, so I kept it small enough that we could own it and not have it overruled by the higher government authority.

I wanted us to show leadership and say, “Our community doesn’t want vendors to sell their yummy food in our town served on plastic. Please find an alternative. Hey, here’s a list we prepared earlier.”

I wanted to ensure we started a conversation with local businesses and see how we could help them reduce their plastic waste. Issuing fines doesn’t work, we know that. Doing it together, does.

Council also resolved to write to the largest supermarket in town and get them on board.

We will encourage them to take that competitive edge they so obviously want, and to read community sentiment. We don’t want plastic wrapped bananas anymore!

Time is up on plastic. Our planet and our animals cannot take it anymore.

Come with us, bring your customers with you, be leaders in your industry.

WE. WILL. LOVE. YOU. FOR. IT.

But nothing would have happened without the support of my fellow councillors. I am proud to know them and they have made history.

At the end of the day, we have kept this important conversation going. We don’t have to do it all, but we have to do something.

READ SARAH'S MOTION HERE

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