With Earth Day happening this weekend, it’s timely to revisit an environmentally sensitive question that seems to surface regularly: what should we do with plastic bags?
With Victoria looking into banning single-use plastic bags and other municipalities weighing in on the subject, it’s only a matter of time before West Shore jurisdictions join the discussion if they haven’t already.
It’s no secret that what was once considered a space-age convenience has morphed into tons of plastic that poses serious consequences for the environment and the wildlife with which we share this planet.
At the moment, the retail approach to plastic bags ranges from Thrifty’s, which no longer uses them, to Western Foods and Fairways, who still do for free, and others such as Shoppers Drug Mart and Great Canadian Superstore, which charge customers that require them.
There’s also a movement to convert to biodegradable bags, which sounds like a good idea on the surface.
According to the B.C. Recycling Council, however, not all such bags are created equal in terms of how long they take to break down or whether they contaminate compost. Best to check with your waste collection agency to find out what is acceptable in your municipality.
Whatever the powers that be decide is the right solution on bags, it must be implemented provincewide. A piecemeal approach that varies from one district to the next only waters down its impact.
Canadians have been moving towards sensible recycling with each passing year, and you can make a strong case that each new generation is picking up the torch and running with it more fervently than the one before. It wasn’t that long ago that Styrofoam was the evil elephant in the room, but considering how much of it was around 20 years ago, we’ve made dramatic strides in reducing its use.
Public practice and pressure eventually led to even giant corporations such as McDonald’s to change their packaging practises, and that’s more proof we’re headed in the right direction. It’s important for the planet that no one puts a bag over their head on this issue.