A new, not-for-profit community group − Plastic Free Sunraysia − with the aim of reducing the use of single use, disposable plastic products, is emerging in the region.

The group has only been active in recent weeks but is already targeting individual users, organisations and merchants, and has a long-term goal of influencing government policy making bodies to make a positive change for the community and environment.

“Items like single use plastic bags, takeaway coffee cups, plastic water bottles, plastic straws and cutlery, we’re concerned about all that,” group organiser, Michael Jobe said.

“Our philosophy is ‘refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle’ so if we can get people and businesses to take this onboard and think about the items they use and dispose of it would go a long way into fixing the issue.
“Our aim is to first educate the public about the dangers of single use plastic and the alternatives like paper or bamboo and also get local businesses and community groups to reduce the amount they use.”

For Michael and the rest of the group, the dangers single use plastics create for the environment is an issue of increasing importance, and one they believe communities need to work toward solving as soon as possible.

“Plastic never goes away, that’s the trouble, some of it can last up to 2000 years, just breaking down into smaller pieces,” Michael said.

“It’s a big problem for land animals and even sea creatures. It takes so long to break down and animals can often get caught in plastic waste, it’s heartbreaking to see.
“Animals have been known to absorb it too so it is getting into our food chain and starting to effect us.
“We’ve just got to stop and, while plastic is extremely convenient, we need to be using alternatives.”

As far as the group’s campaigning and activism goes, Michael says it plans to start at a local level and then hopefully move onto bigger bodies.

“One of our long-term goals is to be able to influence governments to put a ban on plastic goods and sooner because the Victorian and NSW Governments are planning to do so but only in the distant future,” he said.

“The reality is we have to focus locally first and try to make local change.
“Council is on our side and it’s got its emmissions and reduction plan. It is correctly focussed but it’s about getting individuals to change and then businesses and so on.”

While they are growing, Plastic Free Sunraysia are always on the lookout for new members who want to join the cause and make a positive difference in the community and environment.

At this stage, Michael and the rest of the group are looking for members who don’t mind getting out and taking action.

“We’re very keen to have people join the group, particularly if they want to do some work,” Michael said.

“At this stage we don’t have the numbers, and we would really like to hear from people who want to do some work and have a few ideas in the pipeline.
“We’ve got some plans for the near future at the moment, and we’re going to ramp up action for Plastic Free July.
“There’s a website that we’ll have up and running soon but until then people can contact me if they’re interested in joining.”

If you’re interested in becoming a member of Plastic Free Sunraysia, contact Michael on 0400 549 988.