Plastic Bag Ban
With all the clamour about using cloth bags instead of plastic bags rising in recent months, more and more people are buying the recycled plastic heavy duty supermarket bags from Save-on Foods (and its stepsister PriceSmart Foods), Superstore and even smaller supermarkets like the three-store Tropicana Foods.
With Vancouver City Councillor Tom Stevenson proposing an investigation into plastic bag alternatives, I am personally hoping for a plastic bag ban throughout the GVRD, er, Metro Vancouver area.
I already use a combination of Saveon, Michaels and Telus bags; however, I often forget to bring the bags with me until I am already at the checkout. Thus, I end up with more plastic bags every third time or so when I shop. Unfortunately, while I never shop except for food and a few other essentials, the majority of people shop far more and thus use up far more plastic bags – not to mention the excess packaging and, quite frankly, the useless bric-a-brac that the actual product most often is.
Thus, a plastic bag ban would force all of us to re-think at least one portion of our materialistic existence. It would force people like me, who try but fail, to try harder and not fail so easily. Besides, if it was so easy for generations before us to live in a less disposable society, why can’t we do it? We’re smarter these days, have broader life experiences, and we’re not as naive as our grandparents.
The CBC site already has 42 comments on possible ban, with many that deserve further investigation:
Trevor (Vancouver): …The garbage bag issue needs to be addressed as well. Personally, because I eat out so much I don’t have that many grocery bags and I re-use them all as garbage bags. Sometimes I even run out!
[Though Trevor is in favour of a ban, I wonder, really, who runs out of plastic bags turned into garbage bags. I never seem to have my garbage bag bin under control: in fact, my garbage bags seem to multiply faster than I can create garbage. Is this really a serious issue for other people? Here’s another comment that blows this argument out of the water:]
J (Vancouver): [D]on’t use the ‘what will I use for my garbage’ as an excuse to not support this initiative. There are many biodegradable garbage bags on the market. If your local grocery store does not carry some, ask them to. I can stick mine right into the compose bin. Mine cost about $6 for about 100 kitchen bags.
Bunny (Vancouver): While it might be easy to keep a stash of cloth bags in a vehicle, as someone who doesn’t use a car to shop I am not going to be carrying a cloth bag everywhere on the off-chance I pick up some groceries.
[How was it done in the days before widespread plastic bag usage? Did people carry cloth bags with them everywhere on that off-chance? While the current onslaught of bags are bulky, how about those net-like ones? Do we buy too many small items that would fall through the netting? Anyone have experience with these? How about Morsbags made out of old bedsheets – can these not be folded to take up less space?]
JT (UK): Banning is a knee jerk reaction that is only desiring to attract support from the public. Developments have already been made with plastic bags – look at Mountain Equipment Co-op. Their cornstarch bags are strong enough to be reuseable and are also biodegradable.
[Does anyone know if these cornstarch bags are in use anywhere else? But wait, would they still be treated as plastic bags: good for only a few uses? Does that mean we may save turtles from choking on plastic but still use up huge amounts of resources to constantly create these bags?]
Cathy (Kamloops): Remember when nobody wore seat-belts? We wouldn’t think of going out driving without one now. Why not retrain the public to use cloth shopping bags! We are good monkeys – we can be trained!
[Oddly enough, I met a young man last week who still refuses to wear seat-belts. I think that the recycling idea has yet to catch on. What are parents teaching kids these days? As a sometime child educator, I always see kids flagrantly wasting paper, either throwing away an entire sheet for one mistake (in pencil) or not even throwing away paper in a well-marked recycling bin. Can we really be trained?]
Gisele (Burnaby): I think it’s in Sweden that you can bring back your shampoo/detergent/soap bottles and such to be refilled. That’s where we should be as a community. It’s always struck me as weird when I see Bio-degradable, earth friendly detergent in a non-refillable monster plastic jug.. how dumb is that!?!
[Even in environmentally questionable Japan, you can buy your favourite brands of shampoo in plastic pouches instead of bottles. Simply refill the shampoo bottle you already have at home, then throw away the pouch that, while still not ideal, at least uses less plastic. Are there any local brands that you can refill? Ah, the days of glass milk bottles…]
Art Vandelay (Vancouver): More pandering to the hysterical extreme environmentalists. Why is it that the leftists want us to live like third world savages? Should we carry our groceries home in a wooden box on top of our heads? No, because that might kill a tree! Boo Hoo! Let the FREE MARKET decide it plastic bags should be replaced with something else. Why bring the heavy hand of government in to satisfy a vocal minority brainwashed by the false religion of global warming?
[Third world savages? Anyone want to comment on this? On a similar vein, a Jeff of BC wrote “Enough of this green stuff already.”]
iain macleod (langley_bcca): [T]otally bogus. The plastic bag issue is just another way for big business to sell another product for almost 100% pure profit, e.g. their new cloth bags.
[Mind you, we got our bags for 99 cents each or for free (Michaels) and we won’t be buying any more. However, I think the Morsbag way, chopping up old curtains and bed sheets and sewing them up into bags you hand out for free, is a nice way around this. Plus, it also solves the bowling alone problem if you can form work bees (another old-fashioned idea that would solve modern problems).]
Tom Chattaway (Surrey, BC): People re-use plastic shopping bags; where they have been banned, the sale of plastic garbage bags has risen so there is no net reduction in plastic usage. South Africa, instead of banning plastic shopping bags, passed a law requiring them to be thicker and stronger so they could be re-used. We should consider that, and design trash cans to fit them. These improved bags should sell for a fair price, and not be subject to special taxes.
[What do people here think of these thicker, stronger plastic bags? The supermarket bags we have are made of plastic and are stronger.]
Andrew (Richmond): There are plenty of places, most of them within supermarkets, which take plastic bags for recycling. Start by educating the populace before trying a ridiculous ban or, worse, a money-grabbing “fee” of some sort.
[Does anyone know if any local stores recycle plastic bags? They are not allowed to join the other household recyclables in some areas of Metro Vancouver.]
Neil Williams (Vancouver): Bags serve another purpose for me, its proof I paid! Many times I have stopped in at safeway for say, a carton of milk. If you don’t use the bag, the security assumes your stealing the milk. Same thing when I used a reusable bag, they assume your a thief. Or the time we were going camping, and just wanted all the groceries in the cart loose, so we could load everything directly into the cooler in the car. Even the manager came down for that one.
[Has anyone else had this problem? Or does this guy just look like a shoplifter? I haven’t had this problem (I always assumed you just showed the fresh receipt if stopped), but I know other people get nervous about being treated as shoplifters.]