Campaign against plastic bags

2018-05-29 06:01
Hayley McLellan

Hayley McLellan

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Have you ever wondered if plastic bags could be harmful to you? Hayley McLellan, environmental campaigner at Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town, asks as she warns about the dangers of plastic elements to the environment in general.

McLellan, founder of Rethink the Bag campaign, explained this following her invitation to be a guest speaker at a Bring Your Own campaign event held at the NGK Church hall in Pinelands on Saturday 26 May.

The event aimed to mobilise churches and communities to reduce single-use plastic bags.

Through the campaign the public is advised to think about the impact of plastic bags and to start refusing them at the shops and consider bringing their own reusable bags along when going shopping.

McLellan says if people do not start taking the issue seriously, there could be severe consequences. “Scientific research tells us that if we continue business as usual, plastic will weigh more than all of the fish in the ocean by the year 2050. Science also shows that every marine organism is eating plastic, from mussels with microfibres in them to birds with bottle caps and whales with milk jugs and plastic bags. Plastic will never break down and revert to being organic; rather it breaks up into smaller pieces of plastic.

“The global crisis we find ourselves faced with addresses our overuse and too hasty disposal of single-use plastic. The very aspects that make plastic a preferred material – cheap, lightweight, durable – are also the ones that are harming our environment.”

She says authorities should start raising awareness now to avoid a situation similar to the water crisis. “I think the authorities firstly need to acknowledge that we have an issue, in using approximately eight billion plastic bags every year in South Africa. They also need to simply take note of the plastic bag bans happening all around the world at this time and realise that this is best environmental practice.

McLellan urges the public to join this movement of clearing the world of single-use plastic by refusing plastic bags at shops.

She says not all plastics are bad - cars, digital communications and many other multiple-use items in our daily lives are made of quality plastic and do not pose much risk to the environment.

Event coordinator, Rachel Mash, says Bring Your Own Bag encourages people to buy bags from unemployed people to help with income generation. She urges shoppers to ask for paper bags or multiple-use bags.

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