I am really surprised at the uproar about the banning of plastic bags in the city of Toronto. Recently, Toronto city council decided to remove the 5 cent charge on one use plastic bags and went further as to ban them outright by 2013. Many on the right oppose the ban, stating that paper is not a viable alternative to plastic, or that reusable bags are germ carriers at the worst and reusable for a finite amount of time at least. Not to mention, what will they do with their green bin waste or their doggy doo?
Persons on the right…what is it that you are really mad about? As my one friend tells me, she wants to have the bags when she wants them and she doesn’t want to pay for them. Isn’t that a form of entitlement? What about all of the consumers who do bring their own bags to stores. Why should they pay for your use of all of those plastic bags? You can say that the retailer is pocketing all of that money, but in the end, if they don’t charge you for the bag, they will just hide the cost in their product, so really, we pay either way.
OK, I’m really just playing devil’s advocate here. What I really want to know, why is this really a problem for you? Here is a list of reasons that I believe you are against the ban and my humble solutions to them.
Reason #1: Plastic is clean, easy and convenient.
Well, this is frankly the hardest for you die hard plastic lovers. There is no easy way around this except you have to let go of your love of plastic. Face it – you have been brain washed. I was once there too, so I feel your pain. Don’t worry, it’s like any form of withdrawal. You will eventually get through it and wonder how you ever used those bags.
Reason # 2: What will you put all of your garbage / green bin waste / doggie doo?
This is an easy one. There are specific bags for these purposes (available at Walmart or No Frills), and one use plastic bags were never designed for this purpose. For doggy doo, you can purchase small bags designed specifically for picking up poop. Then toss it in your green bin. For your green bin, there is a bag designed for the tall green bin and small green bin that is biodegradable. Garbage and recycling can be tossed directly into you black and blue bins respectfully. If you really want plastic, there are always white kitchen catchers.
Reason #3: Those reusable bags are bacteria ridden / disease filled vessels
This argument is so ridiculous. Firstly, the majority of consumer goods purchased are not perishable food stuffs, so that point is mute. Secondly, for those items that are perishable (like meat or vegetables), the grocery store supplies clear plastic bags for such a purpose. The butcher has slightly heavier bags for deli or raw meat. If you do manage to soil you reusable bag, just wash them in lukewarm water and hang to dry.
Reason #4: The reusable bags are made of plastic too! They have to be used at least 200 times.
OK, that’s just hooey. It’s true some of the reusable totes are made of plastic. But many are made of 100% post-consumer materials or from cloth made of recycled pop bottles for example. As well, you can opt for the canvas bag, which is ultra-durable and will survive many washes. Here’s one more thought:
How about using no tote at all? Tuck small purchases into your purse or knapsack. Place items in a cardboard box from the grocery store or bring your own cartons to place your groceries in. Little shopping carts, strollers, bicycle panniers and baskets are all great ways to be completely bag free.
Reason #5: The government / city/ regulators are always telling me how to live my life. They should mind their own beeswax.
I always find this laughable. The same friend that wants free plastic bags for all, also wants to see seat belt laws overturned. The government has always put restrictions on our lives that many would swear are downright unconstitutional when really they are just an annoyance. Over the years, regulators have required that we wear seat belts and motorcycle helmets, have babies and toddlers in car seats, have smoke detectors in our homes and have outright banned the use of lead in paints, asbestos in our homes and at work and smoking in all public places. We adjusted. I doubt that anyone now days would say, ‘Why can’t I put asbestos in my home for insulation? It’s my right to be able to do this. What about all of the miners making a living from mining asbestos!’ I mean seriously, that would be just ridiculous. And what has been the result of all this intervention from regulators you ask? People have lived longer and with better quality lives.