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Plastic Bag Free Victoria - the middle (Update 2)



The Plastic Bag Free Victoria campaign has made ample progress. Volunteers have been working hard over the last nine months and I can proudly announce that we have gathered 8,000 signatures. 

Website launch

I last updated that we were keen to get a website launched. This came to fruition quickly, thanks to the tech savvy members of our group. The site allows fellow Victorians to download our paper petition. There is a handy map listing location of businesses where our petition is found. A resources page is available to help those who wish to go plastic bag free. We also list the Victorian communities that are plastic bag free along with a page dedicated to our supporters.



The Facebook page has helped us connect with other plastic bag free communities and campaigners in Victoria. We have used Facebook and an email newsletter to keep people up to date with the campaign. Having the various online portals allows for people to connect and share ideas with us.

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Volunteers have been hitting the pavement. We made the most of summer festivals and warmer weather earlier in the year focusing on areas where we knew that a signature is 70% likely. Even then, it was hard work.

Quite quickly, the two goals of gathering signatures and creating valuable education on reusable bag options has seen most, if not all, of our effort go to the former. Collecting paper signatures is demanding. And with volunteers giving up a couple hours of their week, we would rather utilize that time to get signatures and raise awareness about our need for signatures.

Time and effort are not the only reasons for us pairing back on education. It also came down to money. All of us have been dipping into our own pockets to pay for things as we need them. In the future we hope to apply for grants.

Along with canvassing face to face, a number of business host the petition in their stores across Victoria. This has been an effective way to drive awareness for our campaign. We have also had luck with sporting clubs, particularly rowing groups. Lastly, there are the invaluable individuals that have asked for or downloaded a petition, who then go out and ask fifteen of their family and friends to sign. It all adds up.

Download the petition here plasticbagfreevictoria.org/petition/

We have set ourselves a deadline for the end of July to gather the remaining 2,000 signatures.



Starting conversations with local and state governments

Ultimately, the decision to ban plastic bags is resting in our local and state government buildings. Once we had a momentum with signatures flowing, it was time to start conversations with the councils.

We compiled local council email addresses from across Victoria (about 600!) with the plan to send a email altering them of our campaign. We also included the newly implemented Surf Coast Shire Council Plastic Wise Events and Markets Policy as an example and hopefully inspire other councils. The policy requires all events held on council land to refrain from distributing single use plastics. A first of its kind in Victoria.

The release of the Senate Inquiry into the threat of marine plastic pollution in Australia was utilised also, as one of the recommendations was the desperate need to ban plastic bags.

Meetings have been held with our State ministers too. Apart from the Greens, we have had no other firm confirmation of support. Hopefully by July, things will change…

Events coming up

We have our first fundraising event coming up on 10th July, here in Melbourne.

Plastic Bag Free Victoria are hosting a great film night and panel discussion. We are screening Bag It, a thought provoking look into our obsession with plastic bags. Following the film will be a panel discussion with special guest Rebecca Prince-Ruiz, founder Plastic Free July.

Book Your Seat https://trybooking.com/LWOB



Comparing environmental campaigning to environmental blogging shines a light on the ease that comes with writing for an audience that is interested in reducing plastic and waste, versus canvassing people that have NO thought about ditching plastic bags. The latter is a reminder how different the two are.

Grassroots campaigning, chiefly talking to people, is the heart and soul of any movement.

This got me thinking about activism. It used to have an unsightly connotation for me. Violent clashes or being tied to a tree were the images that would come to mind. This perception might be one of the reasons why so many people are too afraid to label themselves one. An activist is a person who campaigns for some kind of social change and there are so many people out there who are asking for social change in very easy and approachable ways.

Gippsland Unwrapped
Tammy Logan lives in the rural area of Gippsland, Victoria. Without many bulk and plastic free options, coupled with a low awareness on plastic pollution, Tammy decided to take matters into her own hands and start educating through her role as a consumer. She kicked off the #bringyourowngippsland campaign with local businesses to point out the abundance of single-use plastic, encouraging other consumers to bring their own bags, containers, etc. to collect food and other products. Because the responsibility so often falls on the consumer, Tammy also speaks with local businesses, to promote selling food to customers who want to bring their own containers. Through her hard work and determination, she has started a conversation between business and customers on the waste that neither of them want to make.

Activist Abby
After seeing the harm plastic bags are causing teenager Abby used a school project to get a campaign going that would hopefully lead to a ban on single-use plastic bags in her hometown of Grayslake, Illonois. I have been following her campaign for the last two years.

Paint the City Green
Gaby is an activist of a different kind. She uses her passion for social change in her role as manager of the local farmers market. Plastic bags offered with every purchase, lack of unpackaged goods due to "food safety" laws, little to no composting due to lack of a facility and styrofoam take out containers galore are all areas Gabby is hoping to change. Rather banning everything, she is focusing on the reduction of Styrofoam setting a deadline for businesses to find an alternative. Any time a business brings Styrofoam to the market a verbal warning and a fine is given. Education has also been key in tackling this issue, making sure everything is fully explained.

Another piece of advice from Gaby is banding together with like minded people. Having a team of people to help work on a solution really does help. I agree with this point. The whole team behind Plastic Bag Free Victoria come from different walks of life, with varying skill sets. They also have passion, something that is needed in spades when it comes to asking for social change.

3 comments

  1. Hey Erin, this just popped up in a Google search of mine. I hadn't seen it, so my thanks is long over due. Thanks :) I just noticed the link to Gippsland Unwrapped (www.gippslandunwrapped.com) isn't working. Cheers Tammy

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    Replies
    1. I'm so sorry!! The link is all fixed :) Thanks for alerting me to the issue.

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  2. This is actually a very great initiative you're taking. As I have seen the conidition of my city, where everyone uses plastic bags, I hope this happens with our country too.

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