Let the sea breathe
THE Lennox Head Chamber of Commerce is running a campaign to make the town plastic-bag free for the month of January 2012.
It is hoped the campaign will make locals and visitors aware of the environmental problems caused by plastic waste.
"Our sea-life is suffering because of the plastic in the ocean and as Lennox Heads is a seaside village, it's the perfect place to say no," Chamber of Commerce president Louise Owen said.
The town previously tried to go plastic-bag-free in 2009 but not all businesses supported the campaign and some said it was hard to convince tourists not to request plastic bags.
Ms Owen said this time the campaign will emphasise the choices made by customers.
"We want to get the emphasis off the business community and onto the general community and tourists so they say no, we don't want a plastic bag," Ms Owen said.
Businesses who participate in the campaign will ask customers to donate 20 cents to a charity if they want a plastic bag.
But a camper at the Lake Ainsworth Holiday Park, Claude Kellerman, said he thought the onus should be on business owners, not individuals.
"Plastic bags are very convenient. That's the bottom line," he said.
"It's worthwhile trying to see if it's practical or not but I don't think anybody would want to pay 10 or 20 cents a bag, so degradable bags are the way to go."
At the end of January, businesses will be encouraged to continue with the campaign to reduce their ongoing use of plastic.
Ms Owen said she hoped Ballina Shire Council would support the campaign.
"Much of the shire land is very coastal and it would be an excellent example of a region actually saying, we don't want plastic bags here," she said.
"We also need to bear in mind we lived without plastic bags for many years and we could easily go back."
Plastic shopping bags kill large numbers of wildlife each year. In the water, marine animals often mistakenly consume plastic and then die from intestinal blockages.
About 40% of the sea turtles treated by Australian Seabird Rescue in Ballina are suffering the effects of swallowing plastic.
It's also often said that plastic bags are the most common human-made item seen by sailors at sea.
But there are many alternatives to plastic bags. You can take your own bags, use cardboard boxes and some stores offer paper or re-usable bags.