How ‘Bag It’ Changed My Life

Posted by John McCarten

Simone Van Hattem is one of the busiest people in Fremantle. She founded and now manages Enjoy Perth, works with KULCHA Multicultural Arts of WA , volunteers her time to various worthy causes and is currently in the midst of organizing a cultural extravaganza (The Fremantle Carnevale). Yet amongst all this she managed to fit in the latest screening of Bag It. Simone was so affected by Bag It and so excited about the Plastic Free Freo campaign that I asked her to blog about the experience and how her life and attitude towards plastic has changed since

“On Tuesday night, I attended a screening of the documentary Bag It in Fremantle. The event was organised by Plastic Free Freo, the City of Fremantle and Ecoburbia. Together they are working on making Fremantle the first city in Western Australia to end single-use plastic bag distribution.

I’ve already reduced the use plastic bags myself, but I wanted to learn more about plastics so I would have more motivation to be more committed. Because I ‘just know’ plastic bags are bad, but what about other things? And how bad? And what alternative are there?

Arriving upstairs in the Town Hall Centre, I was pleasantly surprised by the community garden that is being established there. Inside, a delicious spread of organic nibbles and drinks were provided by Shona of The Hidden Pantry.

After some short speeches, the movie started. Bag It follows the life of ‘ordinary guy’ Jeb. It is funny, emotional and informative. I finally learnt why it’s better to use paper instead of plastic. Seems like common sense now, but paper is recyclable and biodegradable, and much of the paper we use is recycled. A lot of plastic is not recycled or recyclable. I learnt about the chemicals in plastic, and how they affect our health, especially babies and children.

It was great to hear from the organisers about what they’ve been doing already to achieve their goals, and that they’re collaborating with other organisations. I learnt that some people have been doing ‘Plastic Free July’ and there’s a couple in Fremantle going plastic free for the whole year. Brad Pettitt, the Mayor of Fremantle, was present, and spoke about how the council could support the project. Shona from the Hidden Pantry spoke about what she’d done to try and make the catering she provided plastic free. Unfortunately it was impossible, but she tried and used minimal plastic. A young girl asked Brad Pettitt why he couldn’t just impose a ban on plastic bags (would rather have residents and businesses onside, and then the council will vote on it) And what about money, it’s plastic (we reuse it, don’t throw it away)!

I literally laughed and cried during the movie. I felt I had not been using common sense in the usage of single-use disposable items, and it was time to change that. I have been inspired to become as plastic free as possible, not just eliminate the use of plastic bags and plastic drink bottles.

I’m not going super hardcore with it. I know it helps that I have eco-conscious friends, and live with an amazing housemate who is already very into sustainability (but has a long way to go herself to become plastic free). I know it helps that we live in Freo and we have certain shops already here that make it easier.

It’s going to be fun and rewarding and yes, daunting and frustrating at times too! Plastic can be a wonderful useful material, and we should use it for important things, not where we have other options, as it’s using oil and gas that will run out.

“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little”

~ Edmund Burke.

Let’s start by stopping the use of disposable plastic bags!”

This article was first publshed on www.plasticfreefreo.com