Magnetic Island North Queensland
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August 18th 2009
Island kids petition TCC to ban plastic bags

The girls with their petition and Councillors Over one hundred Magnetic Island State (primary) School students have signed a petition asking Townsville City Council to ban the use of plastic shopping bags on the Magnetic Island.

The petition was presented by 12 year old Olivia Evans-Illidge, Jasmine Ruttiman and Maeve Glavin-Quane to Councillors Vern Veitch and Trevor Roberts.

Olivia Illidge, who was a spokesperson for the petitioners said, “We want plastic bags banned because they damage the environment and threaten local wildlife, including turtles and whales, and litter our roads, beaches and parks”.

For the record the petition to Townsville City Council reads:

We, the kids of Magnetic Island, are part of the future generation that you are borrowing the environment from. We want you to look after it well, so we and our children have something to look forward to. We are worried about the number of plastic bags ending up in our creeks, landfills and the ocean. We can cut down on the amount of plastic rubbish by stopping shoppers from getting new plastic bags every time they buy something.

We ask that you ban plastic shopping bags from World Heritage Magnetic Island. Hopefully one day the rest of the world will follow our example, and exterminate plastic bags everywhere, for good.

There is hope!

Olivia was upset that a crocodile captured recently in one of the Island’s creeks, nicknamed Whytee by locals, was a victim. The croc died shortly after capture and was found to have a stomach full of plastic bags. Even degradable plastic bags are harmful, because when they break down into very tiny bits it’s even easier for the plastic to get into the food chain.

Magnetic Island Nature Care President, Wendy Tubman, told Magnetic Times, “It's a great idea. plastic bags are damaging and unnecessary and its wonderful to see young people active and reminding us all of the huge importance of our environment.”

Magnetic Island Nature Care is planning a large board for the upcoming MI State School Fete in which the plastic bags which came from a dead whale's stomach will be on display.

Olivia told Magnetic Times, “I went around to all the classes to get names for the petition then we went to town on Thursday and handed it over to (Councillors) Vern Veitch and Trevor Roberts.

Cr Roberts told Magnetic Times, "We will be taking the petition to the next meeting of the Environment and Sustainable Development Committee on Tuesday and they will take it through the relevant department," adding, "I was most impressed with what the kids are doing and that they are taking ownership of the process. I will also be coming over to the Island with Cr Vern Veitch and we will be visiting Island businesses with the kids to promote what they are doing."

"We will also be attending the School Fete next Saturday and we are bringing 50 or 60 reusable shopping bags and a box of coasters with the message, "Don't waste Magnetic Island" to hand out.
This year the The South Australian Government banned plastic shopping bags as the first Australian State to do so.

In 2003 Coles Bay, a tourist town in Tasmania became Australia's first plastic bag free town. According to plastic bag phase-out website, Are you ready (click here) “The response from the public and media both in Australia and overseas was as incredibly positive. The businesses who banned the bags included two supermarkets, one of which was an IAG outlet.

“Since the ban was implemented, this small Tasmanian town has stopped the use of over 1.75 million plastic bags. In one simple move, they showed that Australian communities could easily make the switch to living without plastic check-out bags. The retailers also benefited because they no longer had to buy plastic bags.

"As alternatives to plastic check-out bags, the town’s retailers offered a strong, Australian-made paper bag, as well as a reusable bag."

Olivia said, “I think it would be pretty cool to get Island artists to come up with bags designed from recycled materials and it would be good for shops to reuse the cardboard boxes that stuff comes in for customers to take things home in.”

“It's a powerful message from the kids but the next step is to show the community is behind it,” said Olivia's mother, Libby.

“We would like to remind Council of the saying, ‘We don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children’. More and more places around the word are banning plastic bags, so why can’t we?” Olivia said. “It’s easy and there are plenty of alternatives.”

To help engage in this issue Magnetic Times is starting a new poll to guage readers' support for a ban on plastic shopping bags. To make the vote as simple as possible we will only seek a vote on the use or not of the single-use plastic bag commonly used at check-outs. To vote just scroll down the right side column on our front page and you will find the poll. Ed

Story: George Hirst
Photo: Libby Evans-Illidge

To add your comment,
or read those of others, see below

Island kids petition TCC to ban plastic bags
Vicki Copping
August 15th 2009
Well done girls! You are so right and it is devastating the damage that these bags have caused marine wildlife. I fully support your petition.
August 15th 2009
You have my support; my only concern is that the plastic bin liners we now use for our garbage, instead of the recycled plastic bags, are not bio-degradeable and will still finish up in the dump.
Jenny Stirling
August 15th 2009
Might even get forgetful people like me to remember to get the green bags out of the car. Well done :)
Chris C
August 15th 2009
On ya Opy
August 15th 2009
well done
David J
August 15th 2009
What type of community behavior is this where twelve year old school children are being used as environmental political tool?s. Is this really acceptable and accountable behavior in today’s age? Are we really able to convince ourselves and believe that twelve year old children have at their own volition petitioned Townsville Council on a very controversial environmental issue? Who the hell is pushing our children into the political spotlight for their own environmental agenda? For Christ’s sakes ask them where they shop? What do they buy? Do they have the full carbon footprint concept in mind when they buy a copy of Girlfriend? No questions asked the children should be applauded for their community spirit, however on the other hand we should be condemned for abusing their innocence in this manner. Perhaps we should ask Bill Henson to come and photograph the children draped in plastic bags surrounded by dead whales to really promote the message. My point is this is an adult issue and the fact they we use children to promote it is totally unacceptable. I can appreciate children understanding the significance of pollution and the impact it has on future events, but to believe that from the mouths of babes they are considering the world their children is just another form of exploitation.
A Parent
August 15th 2009
Great work, we hope you succeed!!!

Lorna Hempstead
August 15th 2009
Congratulations to tomorrow's leaders. Other town's have done it - so we can too, if we have a mind to. There was life before plastic bags; every Mum carried a string bag as a "just in case" measure - today there are gorgeous coloured parachute silk bags that would be the equivalent; we went to the greengrocers with the "potato" bag for the spuds and dirty root vegetables, and the clean bag for salads and fruits, plus the grocery bags. No prepacks at the ironmongers (hardware store) everything by the ounce or pound and usually into recycled newspaper (craftily folded) bag - and if you only wanted to buy 3 screws you could do that too. There is legilsation around selling some items such as meat - so the thin meat/deli bags may not be quite so easy to get rid of as that may require legislation, but for the rest, let's make a real effort.
chris c
August 16th 2009
David J - you're weird mate!!!

I can't be bothered responding further to your diatribe - other than to say that I don't appreciate your intemperate language or your use of someone's lord's name in vain - it sets a very bad example for my children who also read this site
olivia illidge
August 16th 2009
to david j, i am olivia illidge and i believe you are totally wrong, who is going to be your pm when you are 90? someone like me who believes they could make this country a better and more environmental place. and if we are going to do it, why don't we start now so we have more time to work on it.

P.S. i don't buy girlfriend ( or any other magasine for that matter ).
Libby Illidge
August 16th 2009
A special message to David J - you are missing out on so much, by not being more in touch with the next generation. With so much media being focused on the impacts of human induced climate change,why are you suprised that our young ones are engaged with the issues and want to do something about them? Add to that being resident on a world heritage island, growing up snorkelling and bush walking, and being in tune with out wonderful surroundings, is it any wonder that our kids know that they are in the midst of something worth protecting. Now, lets add to the mix living in a solar suburb (and having just had a full energy audit), and a great local school that has just completed units on energy, the environment and democracy, I am pleased to report that our future is in good hands indeed. The kids petition was not about exploitation, rather it was democracy and freedom of speech in action. In the face of significant threats to our planet, it is SOOOO positive to see our young people feel empowered to do something. Now, its up to us to heed their message, and get behind them. Libby Illidge (Olivia Illidge's very proud mum).
August 16th 2009
What you can consider as an alternative to plastic bags as bin liners is separating your rubbish. Everything compostable goes in one bucket, recycling in another which basically leaves you with packaging. Any packaging with food on it can be washed which leaves you with "clean" rubbish for your regular bin which you can tip straight into the green wheely bin.

Good work girls. And to David J - since when are 12 year olds (and younger) not allowed to have their own opinions?
Kylie D
August 16th 2009
David J, "behaviour" has a "u" in it. I'm so proud of these kids taking the initiative and showing such a mature and responsible attitude to their world and their influence in our (thankfully) democratic society. Let's think of more things we can do as a community to enhance our island as an environmental haven. Keep up the fantastic work Maggie Island State School!
Lea S.
August 16th 2009
Well done kids! And of course they have the capacity to think for themselves on these matters (and particularly living on MI). Moreover, the enthusiam and energy to be proactive. I will vote for Olivia as my PM when I am 90. Meanwhile, let's hope the TCC is really listening!
Dr S Maturin
August 17th 2009
Wonderful to see a younger generation take an active role in their future. After all it's their world too.
Can the council prohibit shops using plastic bags or will it be voluntary?
If you can convince retail outlets to ban plastic bags you had better put signs up at the mainland ferry terminal to inform tourists.
August 17th 2009
Great idea, glad to see some positive action finally.
August 17th 2009
Great idea. Good see some positive action finally.
August 17th 2009
If David J. really, truly wants to know what sort of community behaviour our kids are exposed to he could come to the Magnetic Island school fete this Saturday afternoon and see for himself. The kids will be there (because it's their school), the politicians will be there (because it's their job to exploit every opportunity), the parents will be there (because that's where "community" starts) and half the Island's adult population will be there because, believe it or not, participation in community building is a "adult issue".
Helen McDermott
August 18th 2009
Hello to my community, I would like to embrace such a wonderful notion of plastic bag free Magnetic Island. I am running the 2nd hand clothes stall at the Magnetic Island State School (MISS) Fete this year, I am sending out a call for environmentaly friendly carry bags so I can distroy the plastic bags I was intending to use. If any one can donate a few this will help, they can be droped off at the school office on Sooning street or if you have more I can come and pick them up. The fete will be on 22nd August, 2pm to 6pm this Saturday.
great work kids, lots of small steps can, and do, make a big difference. well done.

from Helen McDermott
Sue Hubbard
August 18th 2009
As an ex-pricipal I am heartened to see environmental issues being addressed by these children who obviously believe, as I do, that they CAN make a difference. Fantastic!
Nicole Webster
August 18th 2009
I believe these children should be congratulated for their passion and the care that they are showing for the preservation of their environment. It is extremely positive that this younger generation are taking on initiatives such as this. Not only will it help to protect the local environment, but the publicity will make all of us (locals and visitors) think more deeply about environmental issues such as plastic pollution. My son is only 5 but recently came home from prep declaring himself a 'waterways warrior' and telling me how sad it makes him feel when he sees rubbish in our oceans, rivers and parks. It all makes me think the future of the environment is in good hands!
Well done!
Miriam Airey
August 18th 2009
Well done excellent children of Maggie Island! Why has no-one thought to ban plastic bags on your beautiful island before now? It's obvious! Stick to your principles, maintain your passion for the environment, and try to ignore the David Js of this world.
Edwin B
August 18th 2009
What a great initiative Olivia, Jasmine and Maeve! The main difference between you and many in the community is "Action". It is only by acting that it is possible to make a difference and you have taken a great first step. Don't worry about David J and others like him (there will be others). The saddest thing is they don't act themselves. They just criticise. I know this is YOUR idea and I am sure you will inspire those around you with similar thoughts and ACTIONS. Good luck! You certainly have my support.
August 18th 2009
Congratulations Olivia and team for your great initiative. You are an inspiration not just to your school mates, but to older generations who often forget the earth is a borrowed and fragile resource. You have my full support too!
August 19th 2009
I would find the inconvenience of not having plastic bags a dear price to pay for pandering to those that think that they are some sort of evil creation. Personally, every bag that I get is re-used, normally as a rubbish bag which is then disposed of in the bin like all the other rubbish. How can the bags then end up in the creeks or ocean but none of the other rubbish does? Doesn't make sense does it?
Shopping bags per se are not the problem - littering is!
Shirley Sorokin
August 19th 2009
Brilliant! We have been without plastic bags now in South Australia for about 6 months, and its so easy to get used to it. We are now in the habit of remembering to take our calico bags to the shops with us. I disagree that it is just an adult issue. Conservation issues are being taught in schools everywhere (my son recently had to do a project on plastic bags here). That the kids are taking this seriously is a very positive step for the future. Kinda puts us adults to shame doesn't it that plastic bags are not already banned on the island? Come on Townsville City Council! It really aint that hard!
Toby sorokin
August 19th 2009
im in SA and the'r already banned here so there's no reson why they shouldn't be banned there. And there is no problem with kids advertising it.
Chrissy Maguire
August 19th 2009
Well done girls, we can wrap our scraps in newspaper reuse the recycle bags or pretty ones and save the apalling waste of plastic bags, seen on our roadsides, on the beaches, in the turtles mouths. David J you should commend these girls for taking the iniative and not sitting in front of computers playing violent games all day. They have obviously spent time looking around at the beauty of their surroundings and want to preserve it. Very admirable and from little beginnings...
Chrissy Maguire
August 19th 2009
Ron, plastic bags are no more an "evil creation" (your own overblown terminology) than is diesel, CFCs or enriched uranium. Each has its own distinctly useful purpose and frankly, its own distinctly obvious downside/s.
None of us wants plastic shopping bags to end up inside marine mammals or anywhere else across the countryside but for whatever reason and despite your best efforts, millions of the billions freely released inside supermarkets and shops in Australia every year, do just that.
Since you (and almost everyone else in the country) has absolutely no solution suggestion whatsoever to contribute, is it such a big deal that a couple of school kids have a go?
They've waited quietly behind all the adults and bigshots in the queue, they've written it down in simple language that everyone understands and they are now standing by ready to answer any questions that anyone has to ask. Why not show them a teensy bit of respect?
Shirley S
August 19th 2009
Ron, unfortunately plastic bags from rubbish dumps do end up in the environment, during storms, they tend to get blown up and away, they end up in the national park, or in the sea, and even if you are far away from the sea the stormwater drains carry them to the sea. Scavenging mammals and birds also act as vectors carrying rubbish out of dumps. So its not just littering per se that is the problem, it is plastic bags! Here is how it works in Adelaide. Most people remember to take their shopping bags to the shops now, however if you forget then you can buy a biodegradable bag for 10c., or a heavy weight plastic bag, which are not banned (yet), for 50c or a 'green bag' for $1. However, I think I have only ever seen one bag being bought as most people remember their own and don't want to pay the extra. At home all our hard plastic, paper, glass and cans get picked up in a recycle bin. Our compost goes into the garden, and we wrap our rubbish in newspaper, and it goes straight into the bin, no need to line the bin in plastic. We buy one newspaper a week and this does for wrapping the rubbish. We also use empty cereal boxes and the like to dispose of rubbish. Its just a case of changing habits....
Whitey The Crocodile
August 19th 2009
Crikey, I'd much rather have a taste of David J than plastic bags any day. Keep up the good work Maggie Kids.
Maree David
August 19th 2009
The kids at Magnetic Island State School are leading the way again! You are an inspiration to us all and arn't we blessed to have such intelligent, resourceful and motivated young people in our community. Olivia, you'll get my vote when you run for PM.
August 20th 2009
I think it is commendable to stop using plastic bags, but can the supermarkets in particular keep a supply of cardboard boxes for customers to us (an then recycle) instead of flattening them all
Chris C
August 20th 2009
Ron - if we have to pay for our plastic garbage bags we'll be a lot, lot more carefull about how many we use.

Go Whitey !!!
August 23rd 2009
Way to go girls! It's wonderful to see these young people step up and be counted. Their petition is a great way to bring attention to the need to reduce plastic bag use worldwide.

Christi Spangler
Recycle Crafter
August 23rd 2009
Well done Olivia, Maeve and Jasmine on taking the initiative and following up on such an important issue. You are fabulous eco-citizens!

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