The August Corporate Responsibility issue of Marketing magazine is being lovingly put together as I type, and the offices have been awash with talk of green practices and socially responsible business plays. Ive been busy reading Julian Lees How Good Are You? so Ive been trying not to feel too guilty about all my less-than-green practices – who knew that there were so many types of plastic! So it is then, that Im greeted this morning with yet another company telling me all about how bloody fantastic they are, and reminding me just how evil I am. Thanks a bundle LUSH.

LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics is sending giant ‘bag monsters’ to descend on lunchtime shoppers, urging them to swap their plastic shopping bags for a free, reusable, eco-friendly tote bag. Each bag monster, which resembles a walking, talking plastic landfill heap, is made of 350 plastic bags – the amount of bags an average Australian family of four will use in just three months. Other protesters will be holding placards that read ‘Starve the bag monster – ban plastic bags!’ while handing out educational leaflets to passers-by.

Australians use approximately 5.6 billion petroleum-based shopping bags each year and while plastic bags get used for less than an hour, they can take up to 1,000 years to break down in the environment.

LUSH is proud of its policy against plastic carrier bags and we want to see Federal Government, other retailers, and our customers support a campaign to get them out of our cities. Starting 2 July 2008 customers can come in-store to find out more information and sign a petition to the Environment Protection and Heritage Council, urging them to ban plastic bags and promote the only truly sustainable alternative – reusable canvas tote bags. A national petition will also go live on Animals Australia’s website for customers who want to take part but do not live close to a LUSH store.

Similar initiatives have been successful around the world. In June, China imposed a tax on single use plastic bags and banned them from all public transportation, including buses, trains and planes and from airports and scenic locations. In April 2008, South Australia announced a ban of plastic bags from large supermarkets, while last year San Francisco banned plastic bags from all supermarkets and pharmacies and the Irish government introduced a plastic bag tax that has slashed consumption by over 90 percent. Paris, Great Britain, Tanzania, South Africa, Taiwan, and others have all banned or are moving towards reducing the use of plastic bags.

Over 50 percent of LUSH products are sold to the customer ‘naked’, with no packaging at all, and the company has recently become the first major cosmetics retailer to switch over to manufacturing using only 100 percent recycled plastic bottles and containers.

“While single-use plastic bags are given away to customers for free, it’s always the environment that pays the true cost of our disposal culture,” says Mark Lincoln, managing director Lush Australasia Retail Pty Ltd. “The two things people should take when shopping are their wallets and their reusable tote bag.”

Glenys Oogjes, Animals Australia executive director added, “Shoppers aren’t aware that plastic bags have a devastating impact on marine animals such as whales, seals, birds and turtles. More than 100,000 animals die each year after ingesting or becoming entangled in them. Animals Australia completely supports Lush’s campaign to have plastic bags banned.”