Libby Edge and IGA Jubilee Pocket co-owner Belynda Martin.
Libby Edge and IGA Jubilee Pocket co-owner Belynda Martin. Jacob Wilson

IGA Jubilee Pocket leading by example

IGA Jubilee Pocket has recently discovered what a momentous difference six weeks can make when they decided to stop using plastic bags.

Owner Belinda Martin said during just a six-week period the store had prevented 30,000 plastic bags from entering our households and community.

She also said that in conjunction with its new plastic-bag free policy, the independent business had donated $400 to Eco Barge Clean Seas to help with the clean-up efforts after Cyclone Debbie.

"We chose Eco Barge for our donation because they're in our local area and we like to support other businesses and not-for-profit organisations,” she said.

"Everything that Eco Barge does is so important.”

Ms Martin said there had been so much debris in the oceans after the cyclone and they had wanted to do something about it.

"We realised we could do that actively by not participating in handing out plastic bags. We also gave out 1000 calico bags during the first two weeks to help our local community of regular supporters,” she said.

Ms Martin said making the decision to cut plastic bags for good had felt like the right thing to do, and both local and visiting customers had been very supportive.

She said customers were finding the change was "easy”, especially when they adapted to new habits of using the Boomerang bag system or their own reusable bags.

"I think it's crazy that the whole of Australia as a collective doesn't ban the plastic bags, especially when we're surrounded by such beautiful oceans,” she said.

Eco Barge Clean Seas Founding Chair Libby Edge said she was proud of IGA.

"And that's just one store. I think other stores should follow their lead,” Ms Edge said.

"You often see plastic bags flying out to the ocean. I actually once saw a turtle eat a plastic bag and I tried to help but I couldn't reach him. I saw him swim off with it in his mouth.”

"At some point, someone has let that plastic bag go, and now a turtle is eating it and we all know where that leads.”

She said it was important for people to realise that marine debris was everyone's problem.

"If you're walking along the streets, just pick up five bits of rubbish so it's not blown out to sea.”

Eco Barge Clean Seas is a not-for-profit environmental organisation based in Airlie Beach dedicated to protecting our marine life and ocean environment. Current initiatives include the Whitsunday Marine Debris Removal Program, the Whitsunday Turtle Rescue Centre, the Clean Streets and Creeks Program and the Mackay Coastal Clean-up.


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