Quitting single-use plastic bags have proven to be a bit like quitting sugar: an easy thing to say but much more complicated in practice.
Supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths both attempted to wean customers off the disposable convenience of plastic bags.
The shocking state of the world’s oceans was used as justification.
It’s hard to reach for a plastic bag while thinking of the North Pacific Gyre, also known as the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’, containing 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic.
According to the WWF, there will be more tonnes of plastic in the world’s oceans than tonnes of fish by 2050.
Closer to home, environmentalist say single-use plastic products have killed ducks and turtles around Wagga.
And yet, the move last month to abolish one of our biggest daily uses of plastic has been met with an extraordinary backlash.
Coles has now reverted to its previous short-term policy of offering re-usable plastic bags for free, angering environmental groups.
There have been claims that reusable bags would contaminate food, sicken customers and endanger staff.
Funnily enough, these issues appear not to have materialised in Canberra where the plastic bag ban has been in force for some time.
Some of the more reasoned commentary has pointed out that some forms of re-usable bag are worse for the environment than plastic bags.
Cotton and calico bags use a huge amount of water to make, creating a new environmental problem while attempting to solve another.
Consumer group CHOICE has found that “a green bag has to be used more than 23 times before it becomes a better option than single-use bags” but recommends recyclable PET bags as the best alternative.
A another problem might be with stopping plastic pollution, like with climate change, Australian consumers are being asked to make a contribution while the biggest culprits overseas do little.