Friday, 22 July 2011
Earthquakes don't only crack open the earth they also have the ability to crack open our hearts and minds. A lot of wonderful and heart warming things have happened in Christchurch and Lyttelton in response to the earthquake.
One area that has pulled the short straw though has been the environment: every day hundreds of trucks rumble into Lyttelton and disgorge building rubble straight into the water of our harbour; hundreds of old buildings are being destroyed, in the process releasing asbestos, lead paint particles and other chemicals into the air. Every one of the major earthquakes/aftershocks we experienced were over in leass than a minute, but the debris created by the destruction of large parts of the city equals the amount of rubbish that Christchurch usually produces in 20 years.
This makes depressing reading, but we can always come up with positive ideas to counteract this, even if small.
While a lot of the shops, including the supermarket, are still closed on London Street , now might be the time to re-ignite an idea that has been floating around for years: Plastic-bag- free Lyttelton.
A lot has been done overseas to tackle plastic bags:
• Plastic bags are not available in Germany any more unless they are fully biodegradable.
• Ireland and Taiwan both reduced plastic bag usage by more than 90% through a small levy.
There are also a few places in New Zealand that have made steps in this direction:
• Collingwood in Golden Bay is NZ's first plastic-bag free town. Zero Waste funding was gained from Tasman Council for an educational programme including cloth bag painting in all of the Golden Bay schools. The first 1000 bags were handed out to every car entering Collingwood. Following that, surprise visits from the 'Good Green Fairy" rewarded shoppers using their own shopping containers with wonderful donated prizes. http://plasticshoppingbagfree.org.nz
• Waitakere City Council is the first council in NZ whose goal it is to be plastic bag free. Their website gives tips for both customers and retailers, as it is very important to get businesses onboard. Check out http://www.waitakere.govt.nz/abtcit/ec/bagsnot/index.asp
• Plastic Bag free Kaikoura launched 'Fantastic No Plastic!' with a logo, designed by a local High School student, printed on recyclable bags. A colloboration between council and local businesses meant that 10,000 reusable printed bags were purchased and distributed free to each household and to each primary and high school student at presentations held at the schools. The remainder of the bags are being sold to the community through local businesses at a price of $1.50 each.
• Waikouaiti in Coastal Otago has been busy with the same ideas.
In 2008 Project Lyttelton did a survey at the Farmers Market re. Plastic bag free Lyttelton and over 129 of 165 people asked thought reduction of plastic bags was very important and that they would be happy to pay around $2 for a non-plastic bag if available.
A group of women around Project Lyttelton have sewn dozens of cloth bags in the last few years, mainly used to give away as welcome bags to new Lyttelton residents.
So how can we go forward and turn Lyttelton into another plastic bag free town?
written by Bettina Evans