Whanganui's Plastic Free July has been fantastic — we are so lucky to have such a huge input from knowledgeable and key people in our community.

Deirdra McMenamin organised events that ranged through a broad spectrum of activities and topical issues.

There were rubbish clean-ups and community plantings days; children's holiday programmes and science lectures; practical home and garden hints and business seminars — and even giveaways of plants, trees and alternatives to plastic.

A special thanks to the Plastic Free Whanganui group, who have led the charge, not only running event themselves but even more importantly drawing together so many talented people willing to share their knowledge.

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It is certainly an appropriate time to get us questioning the need for all the plastic in our lives and our environment.

China closing the doors on the world's recycling "waste" has provided a much needed jolt to everyone. Where to from here ?

I guess it's hard for younger folks to imagine a world without plastic but, for us older folks, the plastic rubbish we now must pick up off the beach and streets are "new" items.

Plastic bottles, pegs, lighters, straws, cracker biscuit and cheese containers from school lunches, vehicle parts, bags etc were not part of our childhood.

How then do we transition to a better world?

Firstly we need to insert lots of other "R" words in front of "re-cycle".

Let's try to reduce, re-use, redesign, repair, re-purpose as we re-evaluate the way we live.

Using paper bags and cardboard boxes is an easy change — sure, they mean using more trees but they don't blow down the street into the awa and then the sea to poison sea life.

Manufacturers, please, please stop using polystyrene packaging — crinkled cardboard or shredded paper is just so much more environmentally friendly.

Perhaps we can re-invent some things from the past, with consumer pressure to counteract the supermarkets stranglehold and over-regulated health and safety rules.

Companies have started to offer delivery of your weekly supplies of grocers with recipes.
When Graham was 10, he used to drop off his mother's grocery list for next week at the local shop as he went to school on Friday.

Saturday morning they were delivered in a cardboard box, without recipes, but his mum had plenty of her own.

If these companies could add in some milk in glass bottles — to be collected back the next week — that would be great.

We miss Imlay butchers shop with their plastic free bulk meat.

Perhaps we'll see the return of local butcher shops for we noted in Canberra recently that most suburbs have their own butcher's shop, with even one in the city's major mall.

Roll on plastic free shopping, plus lots of re-purposing and re-using in the other spheres of our lives.