We can live with­out sin­gle-use plas­tic bags

The Aurora (Labrador City) - - EDITORIAL - Craig Scott, coun­cil­lor, con­sumer and res­i­dent Town of Tor­bay

In a re­cent let­ter to the edi­tor, Vaughn Ham­mond of the Cana­dian Fed­er­a­tion of In­de­pen­dent Business sug­gested the pro­posed sin­gle-use plas­tic bag ban be­ing lob­bied for by mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in New­found­land and Labrador is a “feel-good idea.”

I agree with his sen­ti­ment to an ex­tent; it should make us feel good to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for the tremen­dous amount of sin­gle-use plas­tic bags that we in­tro­duce into our en­vi­ron­ment. How­ever, this ini­tia­tive is much more than a spur of the mo­ment, knee-jerk re­ac­tion to a per­ceived prob­lem.

We, as con­sumers and res­i­dents in New­found­land and Labrador, have cre­ated this prob­lem. For this rea­son it is im­por­tant to point out that the pro­po­nents of this ban are mu­nic­i­pal gov­ern­ments, who are also con­sumers and res­i­dents of our prov­ince. A plas­tic bag ban is not some­thing im­posed on us by peo­ple who don’t have a stake in our com­mu­ni­ties; we have a vested in­ter­est in this, as do your neigh­bours and friends.

Ham­mond naively states, “The sim­ple so­lu­tion is to adopt ap­pro­pri­ate tech­niques to cover these ma­te­ri­als, so they stay in the land­fills where they be­long.” The fact is there are no sim­ple so­lu­tions. It will re­quire a sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment of time and pub­lic money to find ap­pro­pri­ate tech­niques to cover up the prob­lem — which is not re­ally deal­ing with it. The pro­posed ban will cut off the source of lit­ter. Re­mem­ber, it takes over 500 years for a sin­gle-use plas­tic bag to break down in a land­fill and then it doesn’t de­com­pose; it breaks down into mi­cro plas­tics that ab­sorb tox­ins and con­tinue to pol­lute the en­vi­ron­ment.

The let­ter writer stated New­found­lan­ders and Labrado­ri­ans lag be­hind when it comes to re­cy­cling. I would agree with this, but I would also say that mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties have been tak­ing a more proac­tive ap­proach to re­cy­cling dur­ing the past num­ber of years. As more and more com­mu­ni­ties come on board, those num­bers should in­crease with ad­di­tional aware­ness cam­paigns and ed­u­ca­tion of our res­i­dents.

The fact that the is­land por­tion of our prov­ince is iso­lated makes the suc­cess of a sin­gle use plas­tic bag ban even more likely. I don’t be­lieve that sin­gle-use re­tail plas­tic bags are pro­duced in the prov­ince so there would be no ad­verse ef­fect on lo­cal sup­pli­ers and jobs. In fact, as al­ter­na­tive reusable op­tions come avail­able, it may cre­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties for lo­cal business and small start-ups to pro­vide reusable op­tions to the pub­lic. One of the largest and most suc­cess­ful re­tail­ers in the prov­ince does not use any sin­gle-use plas­tic bags for con­sumers to carry home their prod­ucts. Peo­ple come to St. John’s in droves to shop at Costco, and I have never heard a sin­gle com­plaint re­gard­ing how they don’t hand out sin­gle use plas­tic bags.

Ham­mond states a ban could come with un­in­tended con­se­quences but fails to give a sin­gle ex­am­ple of what those con­se­quences are. Of course, there will be a pe­riod of ad­just­ment re­quired for re­tail­ers and con­sumers who rely on these bags. I am con­fi­dent that as re­silient New­found­lan­ders and Labrado­ri­ans, we will find a way to adapt like we al­ways have.

I have trav­elled all over this prov­ince with my fam­ily and am al­ways amazed by the at­trac­tions we have to of­fer. I have seen ar­ti­facts un­earthed that tell sto­ries about our past and map the his­tory of our great prov­ince. I some­times won­der what peo­ple will be dig­ging up in 500 or 1,000 years that will tell the story of our time liv­ing here. In­stead of ar­row­heads, fos­sils and other ex­cit­ing ob­jects, they will find our garbage — in par­tic­u­lar, these sin­gle-use plas­tic bags buried be­cause we couldn’t be “in­con­ve­nienced” by us­ing an al­ter­na­tive reusable bag.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.