Heather Moore- Editorial

The clock is quickly winding down on the demise of plastic bags in this province, but are Islanders really ready for the transition?

A clothing store in Charlottetown is charging $2 for its bags with the name of the company emblazoned on both sides - and it’s made from plastic.

In simple terms the quizzical picture is this: you buy an item for $20, pay 15 per cent taxes on it and then pay the distributor a toonie to advertise its business - for free on a reusable plastic bag.

Something’s wrong with that process.

The alternative is to purchase the item and tuck it under your arm with receipt in hand until you’re finished shopping. It could get awkward if you’re at a mall and plan to shop at several stores.

Something that will obviously unfold here is carrying a logoed bag might become prestigious, a sign of money. Meanwhile the middle to low income earners (or those looking to save a buck or two) will be labelled as such.

According to the new regulations recyclable paper bags can still be provided at a cost of no less than 15 cents and reusable bags at no less than $1. Businesses can charge more but not less.

On January 1, 2020 which seems eons away but in reality is just six months from now, the cost will go up to 25 cents for a paper bag and $2 for a reusable bag.

It’s not so many years ago that higher end stores packed purchases in paper shopping bags at no extra charge. The same applied to groceries which went into paper bags that were taken home, used and reused until they broke down.

As the inventory of traditional plastic bags runs out at various shops the push is on for customers to purchase recyclable bags - made from plastic.

One big box store in particular offers a lifetime warranty on its reusable (plastic) bags but time will tell on how they hold up in the washing machine - and they will need to be washed eventually.

Few would rebut the need to rid the mountain of single-use plastic we create on a daily basis but wouldn’t things have run a bit smoother if people had been gradually guided into the process? For example ask customers to make an effort to reuse single use plastic grocery bags until the handles broke or the bottoms fell out of them.

Keeping reusable bags in the trunk of the car is easy; reprogramming our memories to take them into the store will admittedly take some time.

The world runs on money whether you have the dollars to spend or not. The preeminent solution would have seen shoppers take responsibility for packaging themselves and not wait for a government decree.

A leading compromise might also be for businesses to offer a reusable bag free of charge based on a specific amount of money spent.

Give me a bag for free and the number of logos on it won’t be a factor even if it looks like a car bumper that crossed every province in Canada and visited every tourist stop in the United States.

One of the bigger culprits in this whole plastic mess is water bottles

Fear not though, boxed water is already available in some Canadian provinces. Although it’s allegedly easier to transport and is made from cardboard, how long will it take to create yet another issue?

Heather Moore is editor of The Eastern Graphic. She can be reached at editor@peicanada.com

(1) comment

Leviticus

I've lived here for 11 years and all this time I have had two large cloth bags for all my shopping. They hang in the entry hallway and I take them to the car when I shop. They get washed at least once a month. I feel sick sometimes watching people at Sobey's or the Superstore leaving with their groceries stuffed into a dozen plastic shopping bags. When I lived in Europe carrying around your own shopping bag was second nature and still is. By the late 90's friends of mine in Quebec were doing this as well. To make a positive impact on the rapid degradation of our environment you have start with the basics. No plastic shopping bags, absolutely no single use water bottles. Anyone who finds switching to their own permanent shopping bags problematic needs to have a good think about the fate of our environment.

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