From today onwards, a number of changes have taken place in Australia. Taxes have changed, car rego is increasing, and a handful of other changes that I haven’t really looked into yet to be honest. But a couple of changes in particular have stirred a response in me.
Single-use plastic bags have been banned.
Great. I’m all for not using plastic and saving the environment and all that, but the whole bag transition has been somewhat trying. I think both the major supermarkets have tried to come across like they’re single handedly saving the environment with their alternatives. Which is obviously not true. But despite their attempts, some consumers are calling for more plastic bans within the stores before bag issues have even been resolved.
Both Coles and Woolworths gave ample notice that single-use plastic bags were going and when, so much so that all the ads and in-store signage became annoying. Woolworths removed their single-use plastic bags a few days ago (before Coles), almost like a trial to see what would happen. And despite the advance notice, there were some people who just lost their minds when the bags disappeared. Where have these people been for the last few months?
I’m also pretty sure their alternatives to single-use plastic bags are not the best. Among the ‘green bags’, there is the option of paying 15 cents for a ‘stronger’ plastic bag. The stores are saying that these bags are predominantly made from recycled plastic, so they are better for the environment than the previous bags.
But they’re still plastic. They are the cheapest option and will likely be the most popular choice with shoppers. And do you really think people are going to remember to bring these bags with them to reuse? I doubt it. They’ll probably end up in the same place the single-use bags ended up, and given that they’re thicker and stronger, they will probably cause more of a problem than before.
The other (actual) green bags and jute bags available are okay, but are not that sturdy. Certainly not sturdy enough to be used repeatedly for groceries. And don’t get me started on the additional charges that Woolworths have introduced for their delivery services. Now, if I opt for no bags at all, in addition to the delivery fee I will need to pay extra for the driver to remove my items from their crate. No thanks, I think Coles will be getting my online orders from now on.
Also, Target and K-mart have declared they will be boycotting this ban and will continue to provide single-use plastic bags to consumers. Not sure they understand the meaning of the word ‘ban’.
New GST introduced for all online purchases, regardless of price.
This one really bugged me. I shop online a lot. I like to buy things while I’m still in my pajamas. I don’t like being in crowded shopping centres.
My main gripe was the email from Amazon stating that they were not even going to try to comply with the new Australian GST laws. Instead, they were just cutting off Australian buyers who access their US store. They claimed that since they launched the Australian Amazon site last year, that we could have that or have nothing. Basically.
The problem with the Australian Amazon site is that prices are not at all competitive and the range of goods on offer is but a small sliver of what is available on the US Amazon site. Just like certain other things. Australian iTunes and Netflix < US iTunes and Netflix.
When this change was announced, there was a lot of response from local retailers saying that it was about time this was introduced and that people should be supporting their local retailers anyway. Sure, that’s great in theory, but why should I have pay $30-35 for a paperback in a local bookstore when I can buy it online for $15 with free shipping? And that’s if I can even find the book I want in Australian stores. A few months ago, I had to buy a book about Brisbane walking tracks from the UK, as apparently no Australian bookstore had it in stock. Seriously!
As someone who’s been a customer of the US Amazon store since 2002, their actions are a bit rude. Especially when my enquiries about the option of importing or transferring my wish list, purchase history and other data over to the new Australian Amazon store was deemed ‘a good idea, we’ll look into it’, however nothing further has been said or done about it. Wonder if Kobo is better than Kindle…
The Overland Track.
Anyway, there was one far more important thing that happened this morning, July 1 2018. The next season of track passes for The Overland Track in Tasmania went on sale at 9am. At 9:02am, my pass was booked!