August 18th 2009
Island kids petition TCC to ban plastic bags
Over one hundred Magnetic Island State (primary) School students have signed a petition asking Townsville City Council to ban the use of plastic shopping bags on the Magnetic Island.
The petition was presented by 12 year old Olivia Evans-Illidge, Jasmine Ruttiman and Maeve Glavin-Quane to Councillors Vern Veitch and Trevor Roberts.
Olivia Illidge, who was a spokesperson for the petitioners said, “We want plastic bags banned because they damage the environment and threaten local wildlife, including turtles and whales, and litter our roads, beaches and parks”.
For the record the petition to Townsville City Council reads:
We, the kids of Magnetic Island, are part of the future generation that you are borrowing the environment from. We want you to look after it well, so we and our children have something to look forward to. We are worried about the number of plastic bags ending up in our creeks, landfills and the ocean. We can cut down on the amount of plastic rubbish by stopping shoppers from getting new plastic bags every time they buy something.
We ask that you ban plastic shopping bags from World Heritage Magnetic Island. Hopefully one day the rest of the world will follow our example, and exterminate plastic bags everywhere, for good.
There is hope!
Olivia was upset that a crocodile captured recently in one of the Island’s creeks, nicknamed Whytee by locals, was a victim. The croc died shortly after capture and was found to have a stomach full of plastic bags. Even degradable plastic bags are harmful, because when they break down into very tiny bits it’s even easier for the plastic to get into the food chain.
Magnetic Island Nature Care President, Wendy Tubman, told Magnetic Times, “It's a great idea. plastic bags are damaging and unnecessary and its wonderful to see young people active and reminding us all of the huge importance of our environment.”
Magnetic Island Nature Care is planning a large board for the upcoming MI State School Fete in which the plastic bags which came from a dead whale's stomach will be on display.
Olivia told Magnetic Times, “I went around to all the classes to get names for the petition then we went to town on Thursday and handed it over to (Councillors) Vern Veitch and Trevor Roberts.
Cr Roberts told Magnetic Times, "We will be taking the petition to the next meeting of the Environment and Sustainable Development Committee on Tuesday and they will take it through the relevant department," adding, "I was most impressed with what the kids are doing and that they are taking ownership of the process. I will also be coming over to the Island with Cr Vern Veitch and we will be visiting Island businesses with the kids to promote what they are doing."
"We will also be attending the School Fete next Saturday and we are bringing 50 or 60 reusable shopping bags and a box of coasters with the message, "Don't waste Magnetic Island" to hand out.
This year the The South Australian Government banned plastic shopping bags as the first Australian State to do so.
In 2003 Coles Bay, a tourist town in Tasmania became Australia's first plastic bag free town. According to plastic bag phase-out website, Are you ready (click here) “The response from the public and media both in Australia and overseas was as incredibly positive. The businesses who banned the bags included two supermarkets, one of which was an IAG outlet.
“Since the ban was implemented, this small Tasmanian town has stopped the use of over 1.75 million plastic bags. In one simple move, they showed that Australian communities could easily make the switch to living without plastic check-out bags. The retailers also benefited because they no longer had to buy plastic bags.
"As alternatives to plastic check-out bags, the town’s retailers offered a strong, Australian-made paper bag, as well as a reusable bag."
Olivia said, “I think it would be pretty cool to get Island artists to come up with bags designed from recycled materials and it would be good for shops to reuse the cardboard boxes that stuff comes in for customers to take things home in.”
“It's a powerful message from the kids but the next step is to show the community is behind it,” said Olivia's mother, Libby.
“We would like to remind Council of the saying, ‘We don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children’. More and more places around the word are banning plastic bags, so why can’t we?” Olivia said. “It’s easy and there are plenty of alternatives.”
To help engage in this issue Magnetic Times is starting a new poll to guage readers' support for a ban on plastic shopping bags. To make the vote as simple as possible we will only seek a vote on the use or not of the single-use plastic bag commonly used at check-outs. To vote just scroll down the right side column on our front page and you will find the poll. Ed
Story: George Hirst
Photo: Libby Evans-Illidge
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