The We Care movement is catching on, with Eurobodalla consumers and food businesses embracing more eco-friendly alternatives to single-use plastic products.
Eurobodalla Council’s We Care program has been working with local businesses to help them address the five problem single-use plastics – straws, cutlery, cups, containers and bags.
The program connects businesses with local suppliers of sustainable packaging, such as wooden cutlery, cardboard containers and paper straws, and helps businesses brainstorm creative ways to address waste.
“For some businesses the strategies are as simple as moving straws behind the counter to prompt customers to consider whether they really need it,” says Eurobodalla Council’s project officer Anna Jane Linke.
“We’re already seeing the positive impact the program is having to litter in the environment. In Council’s marine debris clean ups, and in our drain litter baskets in the Batemans Bay CBD, we’re finding paper straws now as well as plastic ones. This shows the behaviour change from local businesses.
“While it’s frustrating that they’re still being littered, fortunately paper straws break down, whereas plastic just breaks up into smaller and smaller pieces.”
Ms Linke said that while the eco-friendly packaging was still single-use, it was made from renewable resources, unlike petroleum-based plastic products.
“The eco-friendly packaging is made from things like vegetable starch and paper that break down naturally in the environment,” she said.
“Plastic, which is made from petroleum, can take up to 1,000 years to break down and can harms and kill our marine life when littered into the environment.”
Ms Linke said now that businesses had taken the lead, it was up to consumers to do their bit by forming new habits.
“We need the community to support businesses taking positive steps for the environment, and to get into the habit of carrying reusable cups, bags, straws, cutlery and containers when they head out for a bite to eat,” she said.
“Just like forming any habit, it takes persistence and time. It does get easier to take your own - and you might be surprised about which local outlets will accept containers from your cupboard for your takeaway meal.”
We Care Eurobodalla stands for Carry reusables, Avoid single-use plastic, Reuse where you can, and Encourage others to do the same. The project is a NSW EPA Waste Less, Recycle More initiative funded from the waste levy.
Keep an eye out for the We Care plaques in store and ask your local food outlet what they’re doing to reduce single-use plastic. For more information, including the list of participating businesses, visit www.esc.nsw.gov.au and search ‘We Care Eurobodalla’.
Above: Local businesses have taken the lead in making positive environmental change by signing on to Eurobodalla Council’s We Care program. Pictured is project officer Anna Jane Linke.