You’re feeling good about your latest sustainably-made fashion purchase! You’re on your way home to Instagram it; hashtag sustainable fashion, hashtag eco-friendly. Awesome! Your garments look great and you feel great - and you’ve told cyberspace about it. Now everyone knows how much you care about the environment. Without thinking about it, you’ve scrunched up the bag your beautiful clothes came in and thrown it in the bin...

According to Australia’s Environment Protection and Heritage Council, the consumption of HDPO lightweight carry bags was estimated at 3.93 billion in 2007. Thankfully, lightweight plastic bags you take your groceries home in are becoming a thing of the past, having already been banned in the ACT, Northern Territory, Tasmania and South Australia. The South Australian Government estimates that there are almost 400 million less plastic bags in SA every year as a result of the ban in 2009. Australians have taken on board the impact of plastic bags for our environment and are assuming responsibility for the damage they have caused. According to consumer market research undertaken by Sustainability Victoria in 2007, 94% of households have at least one reusable bag, and some had up to 30. The average household has about nine reusable bags. That being said, plastic bags for retailers are still high in use.

The South Australian Government has warned that any retailer who supplies a customer with a plastic bag made out of polyethelene polymer less than 35 microns thick can be fined.  The consumer is not fined if they are supplied with one after making a purchase, but perhaps consumers should show a little more responsibility, particularly in states where bans don’t apply.

Why don’t we bring reusable bags with us when we go shopping for clothes? Is it because they are ugly? Are they a little bit dirty from carrying around fruit and vegetables?

Next time you go to buy clothes or shoes, remember your reusable bags. Many retailers now give you the option to purchase a charity bag made out of recyclable materials such as calico, cotton, string and hemp. They often have pretty patterns on them and are perfect if you don’t want to carry around an ugly looking supermarket branded reusable bag for your clothes. Material is also kinder on your fingers if you are shopping for a while!

If you want to prepare before you head out, there are many stores dedicated to providing stylish, eco-bags that can fold up to nothing. Keep them in your handbag or your car and shove them in your pocket before you head off to shop.

One such brand is the Ecosatch. Designed with Mother Earth in mind, these reusable bags are made from recycled plastics (rPETE). Find them at ecosatch.com.au

Another popular brand is Flip and Tumble. Flip and Tumble bags are made in a small Chinese factory that employs local artisans. They conduct routine inspections made by a third party to ensure fair treatment of workers with good salaries and compensation. The inspections also ensure it is a clean and safe working environment. Flip And Tumble bags can be purchased from the online store; The Grommet www.thegrommet.com

Now there are no excuses to continue using plastic bags – let’s make them history!

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