Plastic bag ban picks the low-hanging fruit

Sooke council is considering a bylaw that will ban single-use plastic bags from the municipality’s retail outlets.

It’s a baby step in the right direction but anyone who believes that it even approaches a solution to the problem of plastics in our environment just hasn’t been paying attention.

Single-use grocery bags are low hanging fruit and banning them is as much a matter of virtue signalling than a serious attempt to limit plastic waste.

In the past five decades, it’s estimated that 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic have been produced and of that total, a whopping 6.3 billion metric tons have become plastic waste. Only about nine per cent of that tonnage has ever been recycled.

By mid-century, it’s estimated the oceans will, ton for ton, contain more plastic waste than fish.

They’re terrifying statistics that should come to mind every time we pull out our debit cards and exercise our power as consumers.

Let’s face it, no one should feel at all superior choosing paper over plastic as they load plastic bags full of produce, over-packaged foodstuffs or any of those maddening plastic clam shells full of baked goods into that paper bag.

When purchasing a child’s toy where the plastic, paper and other packaging materials exceeds the weight and volume of the toy itself, let’s admit that it really won’t matter what sort of bag we use to take it home.

Sure, it’s a good move to ban plastic bags in retail outlets, but real change won’t happen until we use the power of our wallets to tell retailers that we refuse to buy over-packaged products.

Leave those plastic clam shells on the shelves, refuse to buy the over-packaged toys, and generally make retailers know that enough is enough, Do that and they’ll stop stocking those items and that may eventually drive home the message to manufacturers that people come to their senses and changes need to be made.

John Audubon once said that a true conservationist is a man who knows that the world was not given to him by his father but borrowed from his children. It’s a sentiment that is as true today as it was in the 19th century and one that we should consider every time we make a purchase of any kind.

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