by Michael Giles

ONCE one supermarket said they were prepared to go ‘plastic bag free’ at the checkout, it has been refreshingly encouraging to see how quickly the others have followed suit.
There’s still a long way to go where the packaging of food and other goods is concerned but at least it’s a start and one that had to be made.
Perhaps the same dynamic can be brought to bear on fast-food outlets and food packaging companies so that recyclable or biodegradable packaging can be used wherever possible.
About 10 million metric tons of plastic end up in the ocean each year and that rate has been increasing alarmingly each year over the past decade in particular.
This stuff takes 1000s of years to break down and there’s evidence it leaves significant contamination behind that can impact fish health and our ability to rely on them as a food source.
Soon there’ll be more plastic than fish in the ocean, we are told.
In fact, scientists say there is up to 245,000 metric tons of plastic floating on the surface of the ocean alone right now.
So, the supermarkets have started doing their bit and we must try to take it to the next level ourselves.
Firstly, we’ve got to change our shopping habits by bringing along our own reusable shopping bags for our groceries, avoiding the temptation to buy one of those hard-plastic bags just because we haven’t been organised.
Next, we need to move towards buying food (and other products) with recyclable or minimal packaging, or bringing along our own containers to collect various food products.
Refusing to accept unnecessary packaging when buying clothing and other products would be helpful as well.
A lot of the credit for the plastic bag ban needs to go to local groups like Boomerang Bags and others who saw a global problem and acted locally.
This may also be the way to go where climate change and sea level rise is concerned.
We’ve had a practice run in the past few days seeing the impact of king tides and high seas on our coastline. Perhaps thinking globally and acting locally will work with this enormous problem as well.