WOULD you like a plastic bag with that?
If the answer is yes, then perhaps it's only fair you help pay the medical bills of sea turtles that end up with plastic bags in their stomachs.
That's the harsh reality behind Byron Bay's Byron Says No to Plastic Bags campaign this month, which aims to curb plastic bag use while raising awareness of the impact plastic has on marine wildlife.
Businesses that have signed up to the cause will still offer customers plastic bags, but ask that a donation to marine wildlife rescue group Australian Seabird Rescue be made in return.
The effect of plastic debris on marine wildlife is devastating and plastic ingestion is one of the most common reasons sea turtles end up in ASR's care.
Organisers are taking advantage of the big crowds in Byron Bay this month to get their message across.
"The idea is to make people think about whether they really need it (a plastic bag) or not," said Luke Mooney of the Great Northern Hotel bottleshop, one of more than a hundred businesses taking part.
He said a common concern was that charging for bags would put customers offside, but this couldn't be further from the truth.
The bottleshop introduced a 5c surcharge on plastic two years ago and has had little negative feedback.
"Less then 1% of people don't like it," Luke said.
"The argument that your business is going to suffer is non-existent."
Campaign organiser Dee Tipping said the big retailers in town, Woolworths and IGA, were yet to sign up, but she remained hopeful.
She said the ultimate goal was to pressure the NSW Government into following the lead of other states and ban lightweight checkout-style bags altogether.
An online petition is available via the Byron Say No to Plastic Bags Facebook page or the Australian Seabird Rescue website.
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