Mornington Peninsula Shire councillor Bev Colomb has had an unusual week by the time we finally speak via the phone about single-use plastics and climate change. She’s been training a seeing-eye dog and says it’s just like having a baby again. We both chuckle at the sleep-deprived connotations that brings before diving into the task at hand.
Bev talks: “We are in a climate change emergency — there’s no way round it — and the Shire has joined in the declaration of that. We also don’t have much time to get a handle on single-use plastics and need to stop using them right now. Today. The Shire is committed to increasing awareness on this, but it’s up to each individual to what degree they go to. We are in the midst of developing policy but can’t implement it without consultation with the community. Personally, I think it’s vital that we develop better relationships with the champions in the community who are already working on this from the ground up because they are much better at rallying the troops at a community level. Those people who are cleaning up the beaches every week. The Shire has a role in breaking down the barriers for community groups to make inroads. We also need to work out how to reach people who haven’t come around to the understanding that single-use plastics must be eradicated. People do things out of habit. It’s about changing habits.”
Most of us have a basic understanding of what climate change is and the effect it is having on our environment. We also understand that single-use plastics are choking our planet. Bev continues: “The Shire has already made steps to reduce single-use plastics in all halls and buildings associated with it by beginning to replace single-use cups and plates. We have also made it a requirement for all new event organisers across the Mornington Peninsula to show us what they will be doing with their waste. We expect that they will be doing their bit. We are constantly looking for long-term solutions regarding recycling, reusing and reducing and as a result have been doing lots of advocacy regarding FOGO — food, organics, garden, organics bins — and support the bottle return scheme, but there’s more to do. No one wants to see all these bottles returned and just lying there in a heap, so tariffs need to be put in place. Local governments can make changes, but we need the support at state and federal levels with big issues like the above which are quite controversial and people are sometimes too ready to criticise.”
Well, it’s always easier to criticise rather than roll up your sleeves and get busy, isn’t it? Your choice. Everyone’s Earth.