A new initiative aimed at reducing and ultimately eliminating single-use plastic bags and other plastic waste from our environment has launched.

The Bags Not campaign, which encourages Kiwis to say ‘Bags Not’ to plastic bags and supports them to change their single-use habits, has already received support from New World and ecostore.

“New World is committed to getting rid of single-use plastic bags by 2018, and to do this we’re providing the market with long-life reusable bags, expanding soft plastics recycling, and looking for alternatives for our customers. But, that’s the easy part – we need to help change the habit of a lifetime," said Steve Bayliss, GM Group Marketing Foodstuffs NZ Ltd.

Bayliss said it’s important to work with New Zealanders to motivate behaviour change. A key part of this is encouraging Kiwis to revisit their use of plastic bags. “Bags Not is challenging retailers to take up the call and look at the alternatives they can offer the customer”, says Bayliss.

Riley Elliott a.k.a the Shark Man, actor Pua Magasiva, artist Dick Frizzell and writer and TV presenter, Jaquie Brown have got behind the initiative. “I make a concerted effort to remember to take my reusable bags to the supermarket, but like many shoppers, it’s easy to forget!" said Brown.

“It’s not going to happen overnight, but if we all take responsibility for our own actions starting now, we can collectively make a significant difference”.

Go Well Consulting and communications agency, Bcg2 are the brains behind ‘Bags Not’. Nick Morrison from Go Well Consulting says, “Currently, Kiwis use around 1.6 BILLION single-use plastic bags every year. It will take hundreds to thousands of years for each one of those bags to degrade, creating microplastics as they do.

“In the meantime this has a devastating effect on ecosystems, particularly marine environments. There are relatively simple solutions available if every New Zealander is prepared to take ownership of the problem.”

“We know plastic bags wreak havoc on the environment, but getting people to change the way they shop overnight is a lot to ask. We believe that education and easy access to alternatives are the keys to creating a cultural shift," said Chairman of Bcg2, James Blackwood.

“Working collaboratively with businesses at the coalface of this issue is the most lasting way to bring that change to bear. Retailers like New World are proactively addressing the issue, and we want the public to get behind their initiatives. We think that together we can make a difference, faster, and we are keen for other New Zealand businesses and organisations to join our movement.”

The Bags Not website, provides useful information, tips and life hacks to help reduce Kiwis’ reliance on single-use plastic bags.