Renowned anthropologist Dr Jane Goodall, former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clarke and esteemed actor Sam Neill are campaigning for a total ban of single-use plastic bags across New Zealand.
This week the Jane Goodall Institute New Zealand (JGINZ) and Greenpeace will present a letter to Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage. Signed by numerous councils, companies and organisations as well as Helen Clarke in her new position as JGINZ patron, the letter calls on the government to “Ban the Bag”.
The letter will be supported by a petition signed by more than 65,000 New Zealanders.
“The banning of single-use plastic bags from stores, communities, and the environment would be a big step in the right direction towards achieving the targets of sustainable development goals, a step where we are well behind many other countries which are enacting legislation”, Clarke told Newshub. “I hope that the New Zealand Government, supported by corporations, community-based organisations and many New Zealanders, will ban the bag.”
New Zealand’s urban waste rates are among the worst in the world, with Kiwis using approximately 1.6 billion bags per year that are each used for an average of 12 minutes – but take up to 1000 years to degrade. Many of these bags end up in water systems and make their way to the ocean, where they choke and kill sea life.
“The aim is to ban all single-use plastic bags – we really need to get single-use plastic out of our lives,” says Greenpeace campaigner Elena Di Palma. “Plastic bottles, straws, plastic cutlery – all have a terrible impact on our environment and are deadly to the creatures we share the seas with.”
CEO & co-Founder of JGINZ, Dr Melanie Vivian, says the need for change is vital. “There is an urgent need for all to take responsibility for the impacts we are having on our planet and its inhabitants. The consequences of our conveniences are now starkly obvious”, she says. “To turn the impacts around, behaviour change will need to come from us all – governments, businesses, communities and individuals.”
Helen Clarke took to social media to encourage New Zealanders to support the ban.