Plastic Fantastic

October 5, 2017

Did you see recently that Queensland will ban single-use shopping bags from 2018? Hallelujah! I think the sooner they ban them the better. I don’t think they should stop there either just quietly – get rid of them everywhere I say. Especially on airplanes in the Economy section.

Have you ever noticed that on every long-haul flight there’s some bastard who has something of vital importance wrapped up in a myriad of plastic bags? It’s like pass the freakin’ parcel? Which they always seem to need to access at 2am, while they are sitting next to or right near you?? I got upgraded on an international flight a few years ago; NOBODY had plastic bags in Business class. I think that Valium should be issues with every economy airline ticket for trips longer than eight
hours.

I do wonder though about all those craft/crocheted plastic bag chickens that are now facing the unemployment line. Like Russell for example, he’s the Plestuck Beg chuckun I bought at my friend Fi’s wedding in Russell in NZ (when I had my broken foot – Good Times).

I feel for Russell, I’m not sure how he’ll be able to transfer his skills. He was made for the specific purpose of holding plastic bags. I’m sure I could find something else to stuff him with. I was in IKEA the other day (off-loading a boyfriend and buying a bath mat) and I saw a whole section on plastic bag storage!

I am happy about the plastic bag ban – it’s about time. I was in Dublin when they introduced the tax on plastic bags in 2002 and they did a great advertising campaign at the same to raise awareness and people really embraced it. In just a few weeks plastic bag usage dropped over 90% and within a year the majority of people used reusable bags. But something else happened; plastic bags – while
not illegal – became socially outcast. Using them was not cool. In fact, they were sneered at for the planet and animal murdering FILTH THEY ARE! There was a definite shift in attitude from the public, so we know this kind of thing all comes down to re-education.

Apparently we (humans) use about a trillion bags a year. My brain can’t even process how many it is. I do recall my mum having a shopping basket which was this large woven thing she would keep in the car which she used for groceries.

We survived without them before the 80’s – which is when they came into popular usage.

Although, one plastic bag that should be praised for the absolute bloody life-changing genius it is, the wine cask bladder. We had a pool growing up and we used to use inflated wine cask bladders as flotation devices. Coolabah if I recall correctly – it was the 70’s which was the height of cask wine’s popularity. You may not be old enough Dear Readers, but ask your parents if they remember the ad
campaign for its casks: “Where do you hide your Coolabah?”

My next experience with cask wine or “goon” as it was affectionately called was a Uni playing “Wheel of Goon” at house parties. The bladder of the wine cask was attached to the clothesline and we all had to stand around it, the clothesline was spun and if it stopped in front of you, you had to drink from the bladder. Classy.

Invented by South Australian winemaker Tom Angrove in 1965, the cask took a few years to get the packaging right but it revolutionised the global wine industry. This startling innovation was a soft flexible bag, sealed without any air space, which collapsed as wine was withdrawn, thus protecting the remaining wine from spoiling.

I read an interview with Mr Angrove’s son John and he said his Dad got the idea from the old goat skins used by shepherds. “It evolved from that … [he thought] & well why don’t we put it in a plastic bag? And if we could support the bag somehow, you know it might work”.

“It was a pretty amazing idea and I remember as a youngster thinking ‘god Dad that’s crazy, that’ll never work, who’s going to buy wine in a plastic bag?”‘.

I did, as did countless thousands of people all over the world. This is one plastic bag we can be grateful for.

P.S. If you have any job offers or ideas for Russell’s next career, please let me know via SheBrisbane.

Alexandria Bernard on BloggerAlexandria Bernard on Twitter
Alexandria Bernard

With a successful 20+ year career in media and communications, Alex’s media portfolio includes contracts as a radio and television presenter (612 ABC, 4BC, Channel 9 and Network Ten) and as a feature writer for bmag and Brisbane Times.


Alex’s voice and face may be familiar to you from her voiceover and television commercial work. She has been featured in national radio and TV advertising campaigns, corporate videos and has been a regular MC for major events.