How to live without plastic bags

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Shoppers will face a big change as businesses across Australia start to reduce their use of single-use plastics including bags and introduce brown paper bags.

Woolworths will stop supplying plastic bags on June 20, ahead of an almost total ban across Australia from July 1 when Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia join every other state, except NSW, in outlawing them.

Despite there being no ban in NSW, major retailers Coles, Woolworths and Harris Farm Markets will still phase out plastic bags. Woolworths has also ditched single-use straws.

Other retailers Big W and liquor chains BWS, Dan Murphy’s and Cellarmasters will also stop using plastic bags or have already done so.

Many retailers are worried that customers will be angry and inconvenienced by the change but it doesn’t have to be painful.

Here are the easiest ways to make the transition to using less plastic.

PLASTIC BAGS

Switching to reusable Brown paper bags is mainly about changing habits. It will probably take a few weeks to get used to the new routine so it’s best to start taking Brown paper bags with handles to the supermarket well before the bans begin.

Put bags in the car or near the door so you remember to grab them before your grocery shop. After putting your groceries away, return them to these areas, or put notes around your house and reminders on your phone. You can even buy door hangers to remind you to take your bags, or make your own.

If you like impromptu shopping, keep a lightweight bag in your handbag or store a few at your work desk.

Traditionally supermarkets have offered green bags for shoppers but these aren’t always the best option. You need to use them a lot in order in order to offset their environmental impact as they are also made of plastic. They can also be hard to clean and aren’t very compact.

A better option is bags made out of polyester, which is also a form of plastic, but they are more lightweight and portable. You generally see them folded into a small square.

Environmentally, cotton bags are better because they are made from natural materials. They are also quite easy to carry around and you can just throw them into the washing machine when they get dirty.