The Queensland Government has introduced legislation to ban single- use lightweight (supermarket) plastic bags and implement a Container Refund Scheme from July 1, 2018.

Many Queensland communities are working to clean up plastic from beaches and waterways, but we must stop litter at the source.

AAEE QLD President, Kylie Moses, is involved in a community movement in Noosa Shire to voluntarily reduce ALL plastic bags and common single-use plastics from September 2017.

Noosa Shire was declared a UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve in 2007, and many in the community are dedicated to living and working sustainably within the unique coastal environment. As part of this mandate, Noosa Community Biosphere Association (NCBA) has partnered with Surfrider Foundation Sunshine Coast and Tangaroa Blue Foundation to conduct regular beach clean ups and record data for the Australian Marine Debris Initiative (AMDI).

The large amount of straws, food containers and cigarette butts collected on Noosa’s Main Beach during the Noosa Festival of Surfing is now vital evidence to support the implementation of the Plastic Free Noosa Community plan. Plastic Free Noosa is a community alliance formed by Boomerang Alliance Organisation with Noosa Council, community environmental groups, waste educators, business owners and concerned residents.

The Plastic Free Noosa campaign will focus on the commonly littered single-use items: plastic bags (including heavier store bags); plastic straws; non- biodegradable takeaway coffee cups and lids; plastic water bottles; takeaway containers and cutlery.

In addition, local water provider Unitywater is sponsoring plastic-free community events and the Art Action 4 Oceans school environmental education project, which offers Year 6 classes environmental art activities and Tangaroa Blue Foundation-led local waterway clean ups, litter sorting and reporting to the AMDI. Reducing plastic use is an important step to preventing plastic litter from affecting water quality, with plastic bottles contributing over 20% of waterway litter in 2015. Councils, local businesses, community catchment associations and water providers are all keen to support similar environmental education and action taking projects for rivers, creeks and beaches.

The environmental impact of plastics is a topic that easily encompasses many of the values and principles of Education for Sustainability for all education settings and communities.

For educators looking to bring sustainability learning into your curriculum and daily practice, waste topics encompass resource use, human impact, biodiversity, etc. and can be easily extended to include authentic environmental action beyond the classroom.