Cutting the plastic
The University of Notre Dame, Fremantle
Students from The University of Notre Dame Australia recently turned Coles Supermarket Fremantle into their “laboratory” for a week, in an attempt to encourage shoppers to abandon plastic shopping bags in favour of the environmentally-friendly alternatives.
Through collaboration between the University, City of Fremantle and Coles; Notre Dame environmental education students are getting the chance to learn about some of the latest techniques for increasing environmental responsibility, focusing on the community of Fremantle.
Environmental Science Lecturer Dr Dylan Korczynskyj said that he was glad to have found an opportunity where his students could develop their skills using a ‘real-life project’ and ultimately contribute to the Fremantle community.
“It’s been great to see the high level of enthusiasm shown by the students, which undoubtedly has contributed to their accomplishments so far,” he said.
The students reviewed previous research to identify ‘barriers’ which appeared to be stopping Fremantle shoppers from using alternatives to plastic bags. On top of their list was the forgetfulness of well intended shoppers who leave their reusable bags at home when they go shopping. Based on this list the students designed and then implemented a strategy to overcome these barriers.
Coles Manager Ashley Chaplyn, who has shown much support of the City of Fremantle’s efforts to reduce plastic bag use, was more than happy to help with the project offering his store as a venue and assisting the students in whatever way he could.
While the students are currently analysing their evaluation results to determine whether they were successful, feedback from shoppers was positive.
“To ensure that shoppers make a permanent switch to reusable bags it is important that the student’s strategy encourages voluntary behavioural change – permanent changes can not be forced,” Dr Korczynskyj said.
Data gathered by the City of Fremantle’s ‘ Plastic Bag Free’ Project Officer Kylie Payne has shown that in a single week more than 300,000 plastic bags are used in the Fremantle area.
“Although it is encouraging to see that shoppers are now buying and re-using alternative bags and refusing plastic bags, more needs to be done,” she said.
Ms Payne who has been helping guide the students hopes to use the results from the students work to assist in reaching the City’s goal to make Fremantle Plastic Bag Free by 2008.
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Ebbs, Michelle, "Cutting the plastic" (2005). Media Release Archive. 511.