Challenging our love of plastic

Our century long love affair with plastic is fast losing its shine as we confront the dangers its once lauded durability is posing to the environment. This July, Harvest Launceston Community Farmers’ Market will be joining the Plastic Free July challenge and looking at ways of avoiding single use plastics. Designed for a brief few minutes of use, this disposable plastic lasts forever posing dangers to our food chain, environment and health.

Inspired by Trish Haeusler who has been motivated to launch the plastic free Launceston movement because she has it within her power to do something and say not to disposable plastic. Trish will be joining the Harvest volunteer team this month to be on hand for advice on how to meet the plastic free challenge.

Plastic was initially the answer to a scarcity of natural resources and seen as a saving the world from the destructive forces of human need.  It was a revolutionary material that could be shaped and moulded into anything, providing endless possibilities. But this optimism soon began to diminish as the world came to realise that every bit of plastic ever made still exists today, as permanent pollution.

Trish explains what has driven her to campaign for a plastic free city. There are so many issues that so far seem out of our reach to influence, she said.  “I have always had a love for the beauty of a landscape and become quite upset when I see beautiful places not cared for.  This initially led me to a career teaching Geography and Biology – how wonderful, a lovely mix of the science of the natural world and the human interactions within it.”

Education was Trish’s way of sharing knowledge and practical skills needed for the sustainable stewardship of the planet. Trish first came to Tasmania in 1983 as a university student studying Environmental Education. She remembers that Tassie was a ‘must visit Mecca’ for many of her contemporaries. it was also such a huge contrast to the rolling sand hills of the Mallee country where she grew up.

“Little did I know then, this would later become my home.  As with that first visit, I continue to marvel at the beauty of this state and I guess this is still a strong motivation for me to act to keep it beautiful.”

By advocating for a Plastic Free Launceston, and through the active support of Plastic Free July, Trish is able to do something practical and hands on. “From picking up plastics when I am out walking to talking with students and retailers about reducing single use plastics, I feel I am able to make a difference.”

Today plastic, especially single use plastic is abundant, choking our oceans and waterways, taking over landfills, littering roadsides, beaches and forests. Plastic is taking a huge toll on the environment. Designed for a single use, such as take away containers or water bottles, it is used for only a few minutes but lasts forever, often in a broken up form that is not always obvious as it never breaks down completely.

Plastic Free July is a challenge to each of us to avoid these single use plastics such as water bottles, straws, plastic wraps and bags. Instead join Trish and millions of people in 130 countries worldwide to raise awareness of the pervasiveness of single use plastic and challenge yourself and those around you to do something about it.

At Harvest Launceston this month, some of our volunteers are manning a bin for soft plastic or “scrunchable” plastic, so please drop off your plastic at the Harvest stall and it will be taken away for recycling.  Join us in reducing where possible the use of plastic, bring along your own bags, coffee cups and choose to refuse single use plastic.