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Starting next year, New Zealand is set to ban single-use plastic bags! The new measure will enable the country, whose residents use hundreds of millions of the bags every year, to make a serious dent in the amount of plastics they produce and set an awesome example for generations to come.

The upcoming ban was announced by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during a beach clean-up in Wellington, the Daily Mail reports. The PM stressed the number of plastic shopping bags being used in the country and what happens to them once they are finished fulfilling their role. Plastic bags, alongside other disposable plastic items, are found in huge quantities polluting the ocean and the country’s waterways and coasts. Once in the waters, the bags pollute them for up to hundreds of years and eventually break down into smaller pieces, but they never disappear completely. Non-biodegradable items like plastic bags pose a huge threat to marine animals who accidentally ingest them or get easily entangled in them.

“We’re phasing out single-use plastic bags so we can better look after our environment and safeguard New Zealand’s clean, green reputation,” Ardern said, quotes the Guardian. “Every year in New Zealand we use hundreds of millions of single-use plastic bags. A mountain of bags, many of which end up polluting our precious coastal and marine environments and cause serious harm to all kinds of marine life, and all of this when there are viable alternatives for consumers and business.”

Talking about the plans at a beach-side café, Ardern pointed out that plastic was the biggest issue that school children write to her about. “I literally get hundreds and hundreds [of letters],” she said. “And that really stood out to me from the time I took on this job.” During the event, three children read their letters aloud, after which the PM led several dozen youngsters on a clean-up along the beach.

Retailers in New Zealand will now be given six months to stop providing the bags to their customers. Two major supermarket chains in the country, Countdown and New World, have already announced plans to phase out plastic bags by the end of 2018. Single-use bags have been banned in a number of countries and states because of their effect on the environment. In Australia, six of the eight states have already implemented this measure.

To find out how you can be a part of the change by opting for reusable items in place of single-use bags, cups, bottles, and more, check out One Green Planet’s #CrushPlastic campaign!

Image source: RitaE/Pixabay

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