Denmark volunteers have plastic reduction in the bag

Headshot of Sarah Makse
Sarah MakseAlbany Advertiser
Plastic Reduction Denmark volunteers Bob and Linzi McNab have been collecting and recycling bags for the past five years.
Camera IconPlastic Reduction Denmark volunteers Bob and Linzi McNab have been collecting and recycling bags for the past five years. Credit: Laurie Benson/Albany Advertiser

For half a decade, Denmark’s Linzi and Bob McNab have been rescuing, washing and mending dumped reusable bags in an impressive local effort in the war on waste.

The pair of Plastic Reduction Denmark volunteers have hit up the Denmark Tip Shop at least once a fortnight for the past five years in search of reusable bags to salvage.

They estimate they have saved more than 3000 bags from landfill as part of PRD’s grassroots effort to encourage mindful consumption and sustainability within their community.

Ms McNab said since the ban on single-use plastic bags in WA shops, the bulk of bags collected from the tip and op shops were polypropylene shopping bags for sale at supermarkets.

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“It is all very convenient, plastic bags and all plastic packaging but it is not convenient for the planet and it has to stop,” she said.

“Until you see it you don’t believe the damage that they do.

“People have to stand up for the environment because it can’t stand up for itself.”

PRD volunteers have sewn more than 7000 reusable shopping bags and 6000 net vegetable bags from recycled materials which they place at local IGAs for the community to use and return. 

This month the group will host its 40th bag sewing busy bee.

The group also holds a wash station for cutlery and plates to reduce single-use plastic at the local markets and make bunting for community members to use as party decorations to reduce the use of plastic. 

PRD co-ordinator Karen Andersson is circulating an online petition with almost 16,000 signatures, calling on big-brand supermarkets to phase out the sale of polypropylene bags.

She said the reusable bags were a poor alternative to banned lightweight bags and used more energy and material to produce.

Ms Andersson urged shoppers to opt for sturdy shopping bags and choose to refuse cheaper poor quality bags.

“It took a lot of work to get rid of the lightweight plastic bag and it feels like we could have thought the process out better rather than replacing them with another problematic plastic,” she said.

“We are constantly looking at ways to gently encourage people with positive behaviour change, by providing alternatives to poor quality or single use plastics.

“You don’t go to the shop and forget your purse; take your purse and take your bags.

“We can’t recycle our way out of the waste problem that we have.

“While recycling may be part of the solution it is not a panacea with our trend of excessive consumption. Many changes we can easily make collectively have a positive impact.”

View the petition here.

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