Goodbye plastic, hello natural fibres

View From the Paddock


As the plastic shopping bag ban draws close, Sara Westaway looks at how to make natural products from Queensland farms trendy again.

Sara Westaway, livestock and property marketing

Sara Westaway, livestock and property marketing

Consumers… sigh. What tangent are they on now?

There’s certainly sense in the current “Say NO to plastic bags” campaign.

When you look at their cause of existence, they were no doubt a cheap and nasty byproduct of the oil traders who told the public the invention of plastic bags would save trees.

So what will they be replaced with? More plastic (mesh) bags that break down in your pantry into a fine blue dust when you go to reuse them?

Some shoppers are organised enough to take their reusable mesh bags to the supermarket.

If you are an impromptu shopper, you can always buy more – for 20 times the cost of production – and add to your home collection. 

Oh, you don’t go to shops anymore – you do all your shopping online?

Ever counted the amount of trees and oil that goes into that packaging? One small item, triple bubble wrapped and boxed to weather the almighty Australia Post run? 

Then you find yourself back at the struggling retailer, and your goods are carefully wrapped in tissue paper with logo sticker, placed into an oversized paper bag with more branding across it.

All fabulously presented but honestly, are the cashiers handling this over the counter the same rally-goers who are campaigning against vegetation management issues? 

“OK, so you don’t like my branded tree-made paper bags, how about you use one of my natural fibre totes? Oh, yes it’s 100 per cent organically grown cotton too (made in China).”

Great! So let’s support the Queensland cotton industry by enabling and encouraging more sustainable farms that grow plants, which are continuing to keep the soil healthy, release oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide, to produce these reusable bags.

Whether bamboo, jute or wool, the same promotion could apply.

So this poor, misinformed group remains our valued “customers”, our target market. And the customer is always right.

The above is our knowledge. We could continue to gripe all we like but to survive we have to inform these masses, not fight them.

As the shopping bags do a full circle, so too should our marketing campaigns.

Like fashion trends, last season’s plastic bags are out and farms filled with renewable resources should be in again. 

Could we consider pitching from this angle – promoting our wonderful natural fibre bags and their sustainable practices to produce them?

Then customers, I wonder why on earth would the government want to destroy such industries?

 – Sara Westaway, livestock and property marketing


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