Bring back paper shopping bags

Corporations like plastic shopping bags because they’re cheap

So Earth Day 2018 is coming up soon, on Apr. 22. Special days that are set aside to mark things like environmentalism sort of make me laugh. For the most part, environmentalism is something all of us should be embracing, not just for a fad day or something (like Movember) where we can all be the centre of attention and say, “Hey everybody, pay attention to me, I’m being socially conscious.”

I’m not talking about militant environmentalism where spoiled rich brats protest everything in our society in a hypocritical attempt at self-therapy; I’m talking about being efficient, minimizing the costs of pollution on yourself and your community and ensuring we leave a healthy environment for the generations ahead of us. Obviously, some people before our time were not that interested in some of these goals.

Depending on where you look Earth Day 2018 seems to have a theme this year, which is “reduce the impact of plastic.” Note it doesn’t say “eliminate plastic,” because you don’t need to be a hardcore skeptic to see that’s not going to happen.

I’m actually in favour of eliminating plastic shopping bags. The cheap to produce and easy to use plastic shopping bags are said to have certain negative effects on the environment, including not being easily biodegradable (some don’t break down quickly or cleanly) and cause, at the very least, a clogging hazard, they remain in landfills for long periods of time and release chemicals as they lay there, they can be a hazard for wildlife and their production process includes toxic chemicals and waste that has to go somewhere. Out of sight, out of mind, I guess.

Another issue that’s come to light recently is a huge continent of trash floating in the Pacific Ocean called the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch.” Now, I’m deeply skeptical of just about anything I’m told (25 years of listening to land agents trying to convince councillors to approve residential subdivisions) and the idea of a mountain of garbage in the Pacific seems outlandish. Supporters of the mountain claim it’s not really visible because it only exists at four particles per meter. A number of experts who believe the garbage patch exists like to blame much of the problem on those infamous plastic shopping bags.

If you’re anything like me, you have a huge amount of these cheap plastic shopping bags tucked away in a closet or shelf in your kitchen. While I’d love to have the presence of mind to re-use them at the grocery store, I know I’ll forget to bring them.

The solution I’ve come across that I think is about as ideal as possible is donating the plastic shopping bags to some second-hand stores. This means the thrift stores don’t have to buy bags, the customers have something to carry their purchases home in and the bags don’t end up in the landfill. Well, immediately, anyway.

I’m not a fan of reusable cloth bags, mostly because, if you buy groceries in them, those bags are known as a comfortable environment for bacteria. Also, many retailers who only a few years ago were preaching to us to use cloth bags now forbid them due to a shoplifting threat.

In my opinion, all retailers should go back to using paper bags as they’re fully biodegradable. This probably will never happen because paper bags are much more expensive than plastic bags. This always makes me chuckle a bit when you see large corporate retailers preach they’re concerned about the environment, yet every single one of them uses cheap plastic bags.

Stu Salkeld is editor of The Wetaskiwin Pipestone Flyer and writes a regular column for the newspaper.

Just Posted

Producers losing money on every barrel sold

Price for Western Canadian Oilsands bitumen so low

Castor man killed in collision

Pronounced deceased at scene

Our Town Stettler: An aerial view

Shows a larger picture of evolution of community

Liberals take aim at responsible gun owners

E-petition against Bill C-71 is largest in history of Parliament

Singer k.d. lang receives Alberta’s highest honour

Celebrated singer-songwriter k.d. lang received the Alberta Order of Excellence in Edmonton

‘Mom, I’m in trouble:’ Canadian faces 10 years for alleged graffiti

Brittney Schneider, another tourist caught spraying message on walls of Tha Pae Gate in Thailand

Feds consulting on national anti-racism strategy behind closed doors

Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez says people still face systemic racism in some communities

Pot sales down by nearly 70% on Day 2 of legalization in B.C.

Several products on BC Cannabis Store are still sold out

Colourfully named cannabis products appeal to youth, Tory health critic says

Conservative health critic Marilyn Gladu says the Liberal government needs to do more to ensure cannabis products available online are not enticing to young people

B.C. high school teacher faces sexual assault charges

A Mt. Boucherie teacher has been charged with child luring, sexual exploitation and sexual assault.

Fashion Fridays: You can never have enough shoes

Kim XO, lets you know the best online shopping tips during Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Migrants, police mass in town on Guatemala-Mexico border

Many of the more than 2,000 Hondurans in a migrant caravan trying to wend its way to the United States left spontaneously with little more than the clothes on their backs and what they could quickly throw into backpacks.

Trump: ‘Severe’ consequences if Saudis murdered Khashoggi

Pro-government newspaper Yeni Safak on Wednesday said it had obtained audio recordings of the alleged killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

Most Read