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Spotlight on Plastic Free July in Whanganui

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Whanganui District Council is pleased to support Plastic Free Whanganui with its promotion of Plastic Free July, which is a global movement aimed at reducing plastic pollution. Plastic Free Whanganui will be holding a market stall at the River Markets on Taupō Quay every Saturday throughout July.

The Council's Waste Advisor, Stuart Hylton, says, "For some people Plastic Free July means going entirely single-use plastic-free, while for others it means putting some thought into making small changes, such as baking bread or replacing plastic straws with metal ones".

Plastic Free Whanganui representative Deb Frederikse says the thrust of the international movement this year is "choose to refuse", with a focus on adopting reusable cups, straws, utensils and bottles instead of single-use plastic.

Mrs Frederikse says there’s been plenty of local support for the Plastic Free July movement and a real shift in people’s attitudes over time.

She says her group has conducted an informal audit of plastic bag use at four supermarkets and has noticed "an incredible decrease" in single-use plastic bags over the past three years.

"It’s really interesting to see people have become very inventive about the way they carry goods, whether it’s in their arms, in brown paper bags, in cloth bags from home, jute bags from the supermarket or cardboard boxes.

"We’ve also noticed that quite a few businesses on Victoria Avenue have switched from plastic to paper bags."

Mrs Frederikse says single-use plastic bags are only the tip of the iceberg but thinking about how to avoid them prompts people to examine their lifestyle and look at other ways they can reduce plastic being produced at source.

There is now a shopping guide specific to the Whanganui-Ruapehu region which lists businesses that allow customers to bring in refillable containers, Mrs Frederikse says.

"The guide covers businesses that sell food, drink and cleaning products, and even includes fishmongers.

"When I was a kid we didn’t have all of this plastic, and it’s great to see people remembering old ways of doing things and being creative in making lifestyle changes now.

"We encourage people to come down to our stall at the River Market to find out about ways of swapping out plastic for alternatives."

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