April 20th 2012
Support for plastic bag ban applauded
Following our report that mayoral candidate, Dale Last, is "happy to support" a single use plastic shopping bag ban across Townsville we received the following letter from marine turtle expert, JCU's Dr Mark Hamann
I absolutely applaud a move to ban plastic bags in Townsville.
Plastic pollution and the fragmentation of plastic items at sea is one of the most ubiquitous coastal and marine issues facing society .Plastics are created to last, plastic products are often made for a single use, then disposed – often with a working life of minutes. Research is slowly telling us that the proliferation of plastics looms as one of the greatest threats to marine turtles and probably other marine critters. Even the most hardened souls could not help be concerned when seeing footage of seabirds feeding plastic products like bottle caps and cigarette lighters to their hatchlings believing the products to be fish. I am saddened to think of our oceans so broken the even the birds find it easier to find plastics than fish?
Plastic products contain chemicals, some are known carcinogens, some endocrine disruptors and many in which even cutting edge science cannot reassure us will be safe. For decades we have filled our houses, and feed ourselves with chemical bound plastics, yet we as a society have virtually no idea what plastic chemicals are doing to our health and the health of the environment.
Unfortunately plastics have become a pervasive and too convenient part of our modern lives. Reducing the local and global plastic footprint is our responsibility. It is a large somewhat audacious task to rid the beaches and oceans of plastic, but there are many trying and many succeeding. On a local front banning plastic bags in Townsville and making strong concerted efforts to reduce the use of single use plastics by Townsville people should be at the forefront of our efforts. Banning plastic bags is a great step forward, as is providing water bubblers to reduce the sale of bottled water. My home is certainly not plastic free but as a scientist, lover of the ocean and parent I strive to minimize the impact plastic pollution has on our environment. It is time to not only Reduce, Reuse & Recycle, we need to Rethink and Refuse our use of plastic.
Dr Mark Hamann
James Cook University
Photo of stomach contents taken from an albatross chick; marine conservation centre display, Hilo, Hawaii
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