Local initiatives could also be taken such as retailers of coffee banding together to only sell take-away coffee in a reusable container, take-away food shops banning plastic and polystyrene containers and supermarkets providing alternatives to the immense mountains of rubbish that they sell and we as consumers have to pay to get rid of. It is encouraging to see the number of The Source Bulk Foods shops springing up around Australia which have banished packaging beyond paper bags. With food cooperatives they are making a difference but more importantly they are providing an alternative to how we do our everyday shopping.
Banning plastic bags for all shopping, introducing reusable packaging for garden, farming, electrical and car products and doing away with double and triple packaging are all actions which could be introduced to start the ball rolling. Above all, being a plastic bag free community does not mean that existing plastic bags can be replaced with stronger plastic bags as many have introduced. Credibility is vital if we are to win the hearts and minds of people who want to believe that real change is possible.
A source of funds to promote and energise debate around these issues is sitting in the Victorian Sustainability Fund. The fund, which has millions of dollars, receives money from consumers collected from landfills around Victoria. It was initially set up to support programs to reduce product going into landfills. It is money that belongs to the Victorian community and could be released for community re-use initiatives. It follows that local government would be keen to back this strategy as a successful program would rid them of the costly but failing kerbside collection and lengthen the life of landfills.
To ensure that a meaningful reuse program is introduced it will be important that a strong consumer-based action group of all ages is formed to bring together existing organisations to formulate a campaign to change current practices and attitudes. In the late ’60s there was no hope of reducing the road toll but through such a strategy the road toll has been dramatically reduced. When the community, business and governments get together with serious intent everything is possible.
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