Community offer sustainable options to Countdown’s plastic bags

Dec. 10, 2018, 2:17 p.m.

The supermarket chain phased out its single-use plastic bags from all supermarkets in October. However, it is still offering a 15c reusable bag made from 55 micron plastic.

Kiri Hannifin, Countdown’s general manager corporate affairs and sustainability, says the bags are an
affordable, last-resort option for customers when they get caught out, and are designed to be used
up to 20 times.

Kerikeri Countdown shopper Barbara Belger says Countdown’s plastic bag option is “short-sighted”.

“They don’t really create a solution for our planet – I don’t know what else needs to happen for
people to realise that our planet is stuffed if we don’t change very fast,” she says.

Belger is a member of Plastic Free Kerikeri, which makes re-usable shopping bags with volunteer
labour and donated fabric. She would like to see corporates like Countdown take more
responsibility.

Fellow shopper Vicki Brown also makes her own re-usable bags and does not support Countdown’s
15c plastic bags.

“I prefer actually bringing my own, because they’re still plastic,” Brown says. “When I forget, I try to
minimise my shopping and try to carry them in my hands.”

Shoppers John Francis says “the end of plastic is nigh”, with plastic bags not being used in the UK
where he is from. However, Francis says Countdown’s 15c plastic bag is a option to start phasing plastic out, and he
believes if the price keeps increasing, people will eventually remember to bring their own.

Another option for shoppers is hand-woven kete.

Kerikeri weaver Izzie Birnie says she has a back-up of orders. She creates basic waikawa kete,
especially for shopping, from $40 to $80.

“The supermarkets, some of them do provide those reusable bags but they’re not that pretty really
… This is something where the resource is there, it’s around us; it’s a traditional practice.”

Birnie’s company Ara is still being established but she is also considering teaching weaving, so more
people can learn the traditional skill.

Hannifin says Countdown is really supportive of customers bringing their own bags or kete into
stores. As for whether Countdown will stock local options, she says: “We currently have a wide
range of reusable bags available in store for our customers and will continue to evaluate our options
going forward.”

Tags: #raranga #parakore #plasticfree

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