Say ‘no’ to plastic and help save marine life

2018-04-12 06:00
<Louisa Wentzel from Spyros Kwikspar in Uitenhage shows the wax-lined, waterproof reusable paper bags, capable of carrying 12kg. With her is Bowdene Blaauw with the plastic bags which SPAR in the long run would like to phase out. Photo:HEILIE COMBRINCK

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Plastic bags are the most common garbage item and the single most polluting item responsible for killing marine life.

Therefore SPAR Eastern Cape has declared war on plastic bags and spearheads a significant step forward in the battle to protect the environment. With hundreds of millions of shopping bags in circulation, SPAR EC managing director Conrad Isaac said they could no longer ignore their accountability in what was becoming an increasingly harmful situation in the world.

“As the biggest food retailer in the Eastern Cape, I believe we have to take care of the health and wellbeing of the communities in which we operate.”

He said it had reached a situation where something tangible had to be done.

“If we carry on in this way and don’t do something about the mess we are creating it can only lead to the eventual destruction of our environment.

“So the dream is to clean up the place and to work towards creating a healthy and fresh environment in which we can live.”

Facing a massive challenge to change the consumer’s mind-set, SPAR EC encourages shoppers to use the SPAR paper bags rather than the plastic bags. These are wax-lined, waterproof reusable bags, capable of carrying 12kg.

Having long been involved in the fight against pollution, Zwartkops Conservancy environmental manager Jenny Rump was full of praise for SPAR EC’s decision to take this initiative.

“We are over the moon with their passion for the project and this is a much-needed wake-up call,” she said.

The problem with plastic, she added, was that it was not biodegradable and, consequently, it never disappeared.

“All that happens is that it breaks up into smaller and smaller bits called micro plastic.

“Meanwhile the bigger pieces of plastic are eaten by animals who think it is food and more and more marine animals are being found with plastic in their stomachs.

“There was this tragic example of a whale found dead on an England shore. When they dissected it they found a huge amount of plastic tied all around its gut, which caused it to die.”

Isaac said they understood old habits would be hard to change.

“But we are inviting our consumers to join us in solving what is a very real problem in our society.

“To those consumers who have a concern and appreciate the enormity of the problem, we will be offering alternative options of shopping bags in all our stores.”

He added that he foresaw the campaign evolving into a far bigger project than just plastic bags, one that would eventually incorporate the collection and recycling of all plastic.

“For now we are focusing on plastic shopping bags, but if we can change the habits of the communities over time we will be contributing to a cause with real benefits for our society.” - REPORTER

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