Would you borrow a reusable bag from the supermarket? The Greens say you should

Dominic Giannini 22 November 2019 55
Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur

Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur promoting the ‘Borrow a Bag’ scheme to help reduce waste going to landfill. Photo: Supplied.

Ever forgotten your reusable shopping bag at home and didn’t want to buy a new one? You’re not alone! ‘Borrow a Bag’ schemes are starting to pop up around Canberra to help environmentally conscious shoppers and the ACT Greens want it to be rolled out Territory-wide.

‘Bag Stations’ have already been set up in some shopping centres and local stores so customers can take or leave reusable bags on one of the hooks provided.

ACT Greens’ member Caroline Le Couteur wants to increase schemes like this to help reduce the waste that eventually ends up in landfill.

“There’s nothing more annoying than heading out for your weekly grocery shop, only to realise you’ve left your reusable bags at home,” Ms Le Couteur says.

“Schemes like this are a great way to reduce waste, and for members of the community to help each other out.”

The Greens have called for the government to phase out certain single-use plastics by 2022.

The ACT government and Minister for Recycling and Waste Reduction Chris Steel says there is strong community support for phasing out certain unnecessary single-use plastics, following consultations with the public throughout the year.

Minister Steel says he’s engaged in community consultation around what specific items should be banned or retained, as opposed to whether single-use plastics should be banned or not.

According to a discussion paper released by the government in October, around 90 per cent of 2770 survey responders wanted to see polystyrene, plastic stirrers and straws, plastic-lined coffee cups and lids, plastic plates and cups and takeaway containers all phased out.

“Canberrans strongly held the view that action needs to be taken to phase-out single-use plastics with a transition to readily available alternatives,” Minister Steel said last month when the discussion paper was released.

“Importantly, the huge majority of the community supports strong government regulatory action to ban problematic and unnecessary single-use plastics, rather than just non-regulatory responses.”

Single-use plastics bags were banned in the ACT in 2011, and while shoppers are largely bringing their own bags, everybody forgets every now and then, Ms Le Couteur says.

Local shops around Ainslie, Cook, Hackett, and Woden have already adopted the Borrow a Bag scheme, with the Greens encouraging Canberrans to talk to their local retailers about implementing the scheme.

“At a time when more Canberrans are doing their bit in the ‘War on Waste’, this is an easy way to help more Canberrans cut down on single-use plastic,” Ms Le Couteur says.

“I don’t think that this is something that needs the [Legislative] Assembly. If you look at your local shop, there’s probably a place they can have it – talk to your local supermarket, it’s happening in other places and it’s working.

“That’s all we need, to encourage and inspire people to make it happen at their local shops.”

Ms Le Couteur says that the Greens are also committed to diverting more waste away from landfill as a part of the ACT Climate Change Strategy 2019-2025.

The government has called the strategy one of the most ambitious climate action strategies in the world, aiming to reduce emissions across the Territory by 50 to 60 per cent below 1990 levels by 2025, and achieving zero net emissions by 2045.

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55 Responses to Would you borrow a reusable bag from the supermarket? The Greens say you should
Lola Bootle Lola Bootle 9:52 pm 25 Nov 19

Yes. I do.

Suzanne Milne Suzanne Milne 11:24 am 24 Nov 19

i have so many of my own already

Anne Bell Anne Bell 3:46 am 24 Nov 19

Works well in many parts of New Zealand. Great for tourists.

Susanne Gardiner Susanne Gardiner 7:13 pm 23 Nov 19

I have - several times - and am still alive.

You can look at the bag and if you don't like it, don't take it. Most bags are in very nice condition.

The other advantage is that if you find yourself with too many bags at home (they seem to multiply), you can drop some off for others to use.

    Natalie Grey Natalie Grey 8:03 am 24 Nov 19

    Susanne Gardiner you can't always see contamination just by looking

    Susanne Gardiner Susanne Gardiner 8:19 am 24 Nov 19

    Salmonella bacteria on dry surfaces are no longer infectious after 4 hours.

    Also, no one says you have to use those bags. If you don't want to don't.

    I will, if I am caught short and there is a suitable bag.

Helen Weldon Helen Weldon 6:39 pm 23 Nov 19

Norfolk Island has had a boomerang bag project running for quite a number of years. Recycled fabrics are turned into bags at regular community sessions where locals come together to sew. These bags are then taken to the supermarket. The environment and the local community and its culture benefit.

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 10:49 pm 23 Nov 19

    Yes, I recently saw that. Great idea, but easier to do on a small island. I didn't need them though, as I had packed my own bag.

    Helen Weldon Helen Weldon 11:04 pm 23 Nov 19

    Julie Macklin from the comments below, the idea appears to be underway in Canberra. BTW ... My mum took reusable bags back to Norfolk many years ago. She thought it was a great idea. I still use these (and others) when I’m shopping on Norfolk.

    Michele Foster Michele Foster 6:19 am 24 Nov 19

    Helen Weldon yes it was in Sydney too. Apparently there is a group in Canberra but I have never seen one of their boxes in a store.


    Gabby Frizzell Gabby Frizzell 9:01 am 26 Nov 19

    Braidwood has had the Boomerangbags for a number of years now. Recycled fabrics are turned into bags at regular community sessions where locals come together to sew. These bags are then distributed to the supermarket and various other shops in the town.

    Damaris Wilson Damaris Wilson 10:45 pm 26 Nov 19

    Helen Weldon I use these, and have used them when travelling in NZ

    Damaris Wilson Damaris Wilson 10:46 pm 26 Nov 19

    Michele Foster IGA Ainslie, for one.

Helen Evans-Turner Helen Evans-Turner 6:14 pm 23 Nov 19

Courtney Evans-Turner this is the idea I was talking about that is taking off at Woden

Karen Joy Stone Nowak Karen Joy Stone Nowak 6:03 pm 23 Nov 19

Why would I borrow one of these bags, when I have enough sense to take my own to the shops. Can't believe after 8 years of bags being effectively banned in the ACT that some people aren't smart enough to remember a simple bag!!! It's not like you go to the shops and then suddenly decide "Oh, I'm going to do my whole weeks grocery shopping!!!" Yes, this is a sexist remark, but if you're a woman and you carry a handbag and you haven't got at least a couple of neatly folded bags in your bag, then you're a little silly!!! :)

    Susanne Gardiner Susanne Gardiner 7:10 pm 23 Nov 19

    I am a woman who doesn't carry a handbag...

    Sally Dean Sally Dean 7:21 pm 23 Nov 19

    I also don’t carry a bag. I also don’t always know in advance I may need to go the shop. But thanks for the lecture Karen.

    Sarah Emmerson Sarah Emmerson 9:28 pm 23 Nov 19

    Karen Joy Stone Nowak I don’t carry a handbag either and they are always times I randomly pop into the shop to grab a few things. When I plan to do groceries I take my bags.

    Jenny Millea Jenny Millea 9:59 pm 23 Nov 19

    Karen Joy Stone Nowak I am clearly silly sometimes

    Pen e Lope Pen e Lope 10:06 pm 23 Nov 19

    Wow, judgemental much?

    Russell Nankervis Russell Nankervis 10:17 pm 23 Nov 19

    I work in the city and leave my car at home or don't carry change for the trolly when in Belco so I can't take my trolly to my car with all my bags. I often forget to put my bags back into my work bag but a scheme like this would make it easier to remember

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 10:47 pm 23 Nov 19

    Karen Joy Stone Nowak Yes, it's not hard to remember to take bags to the supermarket. I've been doing it for likely 30 years. People say they forget them; yet they don't appear to forget their purse, credit card or phone. Selective memory, or more likely an indication that reducing landfill is not big on some people's list, even if they claim it it.

    Claudine Norton Claudine Norton 12:58 am 24 Nov 19

    Wow...sitting on your high horse much! Not everyone has obtained absolute perfection in this area as you seem to have. This is a good scheme yes?

    Deana Louise Deana Louise 4:26 am 24 Nov 19

    and here I am with stacks because I simply don’t want to take my own , I’m happy to pay the total of probably .65c max just to get them at the checkout ,

    But then I use them for everything at home so I guess there re used but something like this I would be happy to drop excess bags off to!

    Ross MacPherson Ross MacPherson 6:56 am 24 Nov 19

    I'm a bloke and I go shopping and don't carry a handbag...

    If I am going to the shops (supermarket) with the sole intent of doing grocery shopping then I will take my own bags with me, but often I might make a spur of the moment purchase (often not groceries ie could be clothing of DVD or something else from K-mart/Target etc) so I am forced to either juggle the items or pay for a bag. Borrowing a bag would be easier.

    Julia Rayner Julia Rayner 1:41 pm 25 Nov 19

    OK boomer

    Lola Bootle Lola Bootle 10:41 pm 25 Nov 19

    Karen Joy Stone Nowak that’s a nasty outburst. Some of us occasionally don’t have enough bags or forget them and I’m not averse to borrowing one from the boomerang racks. Or returning them.

Josie Conlan Josie Conlan 5:58 pm 23 Nov 19

Another stupid idea shame the Greenies didn't allow burning off in dense forests. Get real these bags are fully bacteria

Sarah Emmerson Sarah Emmerson 5:40 pm 23 Nov 19

In my home town they call them boomerang bags! The whole community gets behind it.

    Michele Foster Michele Foster 6:20 am 24 Nov 19

    Sarah Emmerson


Matthew Windebank Matthew Windebank 5:38 pm 23 Nov 19

They’re great for rubbish- nice and sturdy!!!! 😉

Lyndon Zoukowski Lyndon Zoukowski 5:18 pm 23 Nov 19

Works well at Hackett IGA 😁👍

    Katy Skinner Katy Skinner 6:54 pm 23 Nov 19

    Lyndon Zoukowski we drop off the bags in which books are donated to our charity. It’s a great cage!

Adele Craven Adele Craven 5:03 pm 23 Nov 19

Time to stop meddling around the edges and target action where it is going to be a lot more effective. The packaging of most of the food in the supermarket and the energy used to process nutrition-poor food has a bigger impact than what the items are carried home in. Make our homes more efficient. Provide meaningful action and incentives to transition to zero emission transport. Expose the corruption that is protecting polluters and slowing the adoption of renewables. Etc

    Sarah-Jane Mihailakis Sarah-Jane Mihailakis 9:11 am 25 Nov 19

    (credit to https://m.facebook.com/savetheworldexpo/)

Paul Waters Paul Waters 5:01 pm 23 Nov 19

no thanks! that's not very hygienic!

    Natalie Grey Natalie Grey 8:07 am 24 Nov 19

    I have seen multiple cases of people having severe allergic reactions from contaminated reusable bags.

Anthony Grice Anthony Grice 4:54 pm 23 Nov 19

Yes. And no will die from using a reused recycled bag. Stop paying for them, reuse them.. If you have a stockpile because more than likely you do, share them

    Natalie Grey Natalie Grey 8:05 am 24 Nov 19

    Anthony Grice I have seen multiple cases of people having severe allergic reactions from contaminated reusable bags.

    Martin McMaster Martin McMaster 12:06 pm 25 Nov 19

    Lesson learnt

    Anthony Grice Anthony Grice 12:18 pm 25 Nov 19

    Natalie Grey fair enough. Those ppl are smart enough to use their own. It doesn't stop the system from actually working. Your would prefer the landfill to continue and pay...for more bags??

Peter Bojkowski Peter Bojkowski 4:54 pm 23 Nov 19

No thanks

Toni Brooks Toni Brooks 4:50 pm 23 Nov 19

I have. In some places where I lived in the US they had this in place. Not a big deal. I've also given someone a few of mine that forgot theirs.

Bec Hines Bec Hines 4:42 pm 23 Nov 19

Yummy bacteria, germs & virus..

Francisco Antonio Vega Francisco Antonio Vega 4:36 pm 23 Nov 19

How about hygiene? People can be beyond grots

    Francisco Antonio Vega Francisco Antonio Vega 9:50 pm 23 Nov 19

    Tanya Louise I still think it's gross. You don't know where it's been...

    Russell Nankervis Russell Nankervis 10:18 pm 23 Nov 19

    We don't know where you have been but I am sure people still offer you the light of day

    Mo Bo Mo Bo 2:54 am 24 Nov 19

    Tanya Louise so if it looks clean, then it must be clean, right?

    JeeKay Dee JeeKay Dee 6:01 am 24 Nov 19

    Mo Bo for the most part. You wash your unpacked food anyway right,?

    Natalie Grey Natalie Grey 8:06 am 24 Nov 19

    Tanya Louise you can't tell if something is clean just by looking at it

    Francisco Antonio Vega Francisco Antonio Vega 10:28 pm 25 Nov 19

    JeeKay Dee commen sense would say yes but deal with the public and gods knows...

    Francisco Antonio Vega Francisco Antonio Vega 10:29 pm 25 Nov 19

    Natalie Grey I wouldn't want to know where its been and that's a big factor as to why I say no to this idea

    Francisco Antonio Vega Francisco Antonio Vega 10:29 pm 25 Nov 19

    Pee in the container then add a bit of water... No dramas it's clean lol

Grant Robertson Grant Robertson 4:35 pm 23 Nov 19

There are still too many good ideas out there that rely on people to implement them (e.g. so many places use bamboo cutlery now instead of plastic) but not enough, it requires people to either take action themselves or be told to do it.

    Lucas James Lucas James 4:48 pm 23 Nov 19

    Grant Robertson 100% but if people can change their routine (me included, it's hard to remember), I think communal stuff like this is great. Like the little street libraries.

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