Today marks the day that New Zealand joins the global environmental revolution around removing single-use plastics from our environment with an outright ban on the use of single-use plastic bags.
After 9-months in power the Labour lead government is finally walking in the footsteps of the 40 other countries around the world who are waking up to the impact that humans are having on the environment in the name of convenience.
This is after the government received 65,000 signatures demanding their ban, showing the power of people coming together around a collective cause. This will see 2 billion less bags being used every year. Nick Morrison from the campaign ‘Bags Not’ sees this as a win for New Zealand, but managing how we as a culture will evolve away from plastic bags will require leadership. This is only the beginning.
The ban even covers biodegradable and compostable bags, which we have been lead to believe though green-washing are better. When in fact biodegradable bags break down faster, allowing them to enter our environment and become a hazard faster than normal plastic. New Zealand also lacks facilities to process compostable bags, so they too just end up in the landfill. It is also important to recognise that this ban is on "single-use plastic bags", it is unsure whether this covers multi-use plastic bags which Countdown cleverly replaced their bags with after a plastic bag "ban".
So why the ban and why now? In 2014 a similar petition only received a quarter of the signatures. But somehow four years later everyone is on the plastic bag free bandwagon.
Our culture has been shifting in many ways over the last few years but one of our biggest shifts has been a mass waking up to our relationship with our environment. Through the rapid expansion and revolution of media and our access to it through social platforms it is now easier than ever to see and be educated about what is going on in the world and to create content exposing how our actions and corporations are exploiting mother earth.
This exposure has woken the being within us that knows we come from the earth and knows that she's hurting.
That's where banning plastic comes in. It is a visually obvious scar on our environment that we interact with everyday. In other words it's something that the average kiwi can get behind and realistically feel like they are making a difference in a world where we otherwise feel disempowered. Think climate change. Politics etc.
So whilst this is a massive landmark for Aotearoa it is only the beginning of tackling the environmental issues we face here. This isn’t the end it is only the beginning. Continue to show up, continue to fight for what you believe in, continue to believe in the power of people coming together to recognise our oneness.
By Dylan Steeples