Comment: Knee-jerk reactions to climate change generally do not provide long-term solutions, writes Federated Farmers Wanganui Meat & Wool chairman Grant Adkins.

Trying to save the environment by not using single use plastic bags is a very small good intention, but what are we replacing those bags with?

Different plastic bags that need to be used many more times than what they are actually designed for to have less of an impact on the environment. This defies logic and common sense.

Newshub recently ran a story on how the much-touted single use plastic bag ban had created its own issue with the increase in production of cotton bags, that carry their own severe pollution issues and reportedly need to be used a whopping 7100 times to be better for the environment.


Sure the reusable shopping bag could be getting used more often than its pure plastic version, but why use plastic at all?

We should be using natural fibres that are renewable and sustainable.

Read more from Federated Farmers here.

Remember when Australians could comfortably make jokes about New Zealanders and sheep? It's because we had a robust wool industry. Do you remember wool? It is a fibre commonly not found in waterways or choking the life from our sea animals.

The reusable bags might cost more than the plastic ones we grew up with for decades, but that is one of the many costs of being environmentally friendly.

Also let's be clear, no one was keeping the dangers of plastic pollution secret from successive Governments.

But let's get real - we could all actually do more than just buying a reusable bag for our shopping.

Federated Farmers Wanganui Meat & Wool Chairman Grant Adkins. Photo / Supplied
Federated Farmers Wanganui Meat & Wool Chairman Grant Adkins. Photo / Supplied

There is a huge amount of plastic that we can cut out of our homes, from all the pre-packed products to dishwasher tablets that are wrapped in dissolvable plastic.

If we reduce plastic use rather than just recycling we reduce the amount of oil used to manufacture it, therefore reduce CO2 output.

If we are actually serious about reducing plastic waste and slowing down climate change we can't wait for central government.

This has to be a community response and it's going to have to involve honest open debate and minds that are open to new and innovative ways to problem solving.

Knee-jerk reactions generally do not provide long-term solutions. Every industry is going to have to step up to the challenge in front of us. Tourism is put on a pedestal for bringing in large amounts of offshore income, which is great for the economy initially, but is it helping the environment?

Add that to the fuel used by rental cars and it is not quite so flash. It is the CO2 that is causing global warming. Why aren't people ready to address fossil fuel use?

When we order from online companies like Amazon do we consider how our orders are impacting the environment? The plastic and the delivery?

We need to get smarter. We need to stop thinking in silos and start looking at the unintended consequences of our actions - actions as simple as banning single use plastic bags.