The single use plastic bag ban is a triumph, to a degree, in clever marketing and brutal idealism.

Marketing in the sense that the name has stuck, if you think about it. "Single use" plastic bags, they're nothing of the sort, they're multi use. Most of us use them over and over.

And the idealism? Because this is a comparatively simple way in which governments and corporates can tangibly show they're doing something. Ultimately, this is a gesture, a nod, a hat tip.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern debated the new plastic bag ban with Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking today.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern debated the new plastic bag ban with Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking today.

In a world increasingly obsessed with looking like being something, as opposed to actually being something, the plastic bag ban is the ideal contender for faux action of the decade.

It'll cause no harm other than a spot of inconvenience, and most of us have already gone and got our jute alternatives. The irony being, as we forgot them initially, we bought more and more and more of them. And now we have a boot full, several boots full, dozens upon dozens of them never to be used, ultimately to end up in the tip.

Do they decompose? I don't know, I doubt most of us know because most of us are too busy to be fully engaged. We are just following the news rules as dictated to us by an ever omnipresent Government obsessed with regulation.

The fact we can't recycle most plastic yet still have it out there, the fact recycling was a massive con with China who took our rubbish and dumped it for cash, the fact recycling bins get filled with whatever you're tossing out, none of that really seems to matter - as long as we can all collectively agree we have banned a bag.

The fact there are hundreds of other plastic bags and plastic products all around us is no longer of critical importance, except for those of us who see this as the fraud it is.

It's not dissimilar to the fossil fuels debate. Would it be nice to not rely on them? Of course. Will we one day? Maybe, but for right now we need fossil fuels, for right now plastic does, in fact, play its part.

And like so many of these issues, the zealots are out and they're ruining the long term chances of these broader ideas ever becoming part of life. The harder you bang on about things being a crisis, the more you alarmingly warn the world will end, the more doctored up photos of carnage and chaos you show, the more you turn people off.

From climate change, to coal, to plastic, by getting in people's grill by being a zealot, and either running a highly charged and often dishonest campaign, or just straight regulating people against their will, you are failing to bring them along for the ride.


And when you do that, the success and efficiency of what you're trying to do fails to fire, as well as it might.

You might win a battle, but you're losing the war.