Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The latest environmental target - Plastic Bags

If the light bulb ban is any indication, all of Canada better start preparing for the next onslaught - banning plastic bags.

Of course, Nanny Ontario is going to give us time to be good little citizenchiks and rid ourselves of this addiction voluntarily at first. And hey - if someone wants to give me a grocery discount for using my cloth bag, I'm all for it.

The outright ban idea has me concerned though. I use those plastic bags for garbage. You know, the rotten, smelly kind that needs to be contained. So if they were unavailable I'd be buying plastic kitchen liners instead. Now how is that an improvement?

Paper bags are being suggested in San Francisco as an alternative, but my understanding is that they are much more expensive to manufacture. I have asked for paper many times, because they are awesome for storing potatoes. No joy though. Apparently they store them in the store's safe. I've resorted to hoarding the ones given out for food drives and donate in plastic bags instead.

And paper bags can blow around as litter just as well as plastic. Oh, and they leak too.


Anyway, I wonder what will be next? Will we be banning BBQ's? Gas and electric lawn mowers? Snow blowers? Snowmobiles? Motorboats? Fetuses of non-environmentalists? How about breathing? That might help the environment.


We humans are such a blight on Mother Earth.


* * * *

Update: NDP suggests corn starch bag mandate. If that's what the bags are made of that I use to lug my groceries home, they can forget that. The cans fall through the bottom before you get them in the door!

And on the Federal Green front, Gov't Staffer Arrested in Alleged Leak of Green Plan.

35 comments:

Brian said...

Remember when the plastic bags were introduced? They were supposed to be environmentally friendly, what with all the trees we were saving. The light bulb and plastic bags will have more in common than you think, just giver it 20 years.

Canadi-anna said...

I'm actually okay with this one. They provide no benefit that can't be obtained through an alternative source.
There are biodegradable 'plastic' bags. They use them on the Earth Day clean ups at the schools. I have no idea where they were bought or if they are commercially available, but if they had them for this school event, one would guess so.
I agree with you about the smelly garbage, but maybe collection will have to be increased or (gulp) we should compost more. We become accustomed to the way things are, and although I am loathe to change, this one seems to make sense.

My guess is that industry will find a way to fill the void. Sometimes this sort of measure leads to innovation. Let's hope.

Swift said...

Plastic bags actually use less energy to produce than paper. Converting to paper is going to increase the greenhouse gas emissions, so David Suziki should be doing an Ontario tour in protest.

Anonymous said...

but without the plastic bag, how will we clean up a new lightbulb if it breaks?

Red Tory said...

“Fetuses of non-environmentalists”… Whoa. That’s a bit inflammatory, don’t you think?

According to a report I watched on the news the other night (hardly a definitive source on the matter), the answer to the paper v. plastic dilemma was: it depends. If you live on the coasts then paper is the preferred way to go as plastic bags have a tendency to end up littering beaches and in the ocean harming wildlife, but if you live inland, then plastic may be the best option because they actually consume less energy in terms of producing them. Contrary to what many people think, paper bags are not really all that “environmentally friendly” when you take the entire production cycle into consideration.

I’m like you in terms of using plastic bags for garbage. Otherwise, we gather up the excess and take them back to the store for recycling. It would be nice to see them be made more biodegradable, but otherwise I've got no problem with plastic bags.

Gabby in QC said...

As Canadi-anna said, there are biodegradable plastic bags that are supposedly better because they break down more quickly than regular bags.
However, there are two disadvantages to them:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biofuel
1. They are made from corn, among other foods, which apparently has caused price increases to meet the new demands. That means that populations that rely on corn for food will have to pay much higher prices.
"In early 2007 there were a number of reports linking stories as diverse as food riots in Mexico due to rising prices of corn for tortillas and reduced profits at Heineken, the large international brewer, to the increasing use of corn (maize) grown in the US Midwest for bio-ethanol production."

2. http://www.oilweek.com/news.asp?ID=8379
"Cirko [Cathy Cirko of the Canadian Plastics Industry Association] said biodegradable plastic bags work well with organic waste. These bags, which can be purchased at many supermarkets, decompose along with the organic waste thus creating compost.
But biodegradable plastic doesn‘t work in landfill sites, she said, because it would allow one of the products of landfill, methane gas, to be released into the atmosphere. Methane gas is one of the more potent gases that cause the greenhouse effect."

Personally, I have bought the reusable bags & take them along whenever I do my grocery shopping. I use the clear plastic produce bags to sort my recycleable items: cans & aluminum, glass, plastic containers, plastic bags, cardboard, etc.
Why? So that those items will not be loose on the street on recycling day, AND, once at the recycling depot, the sorters will know where those items go.

I also recycle my Ziplock bags by carefully washing them after each use, instead of using a new one every time.

Banning plastic bags outright? NO. Sensible uses? YES.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Does anyone else get the feeling they just make this stuff up as they go along?

It seems that it is more important to appear environmentally friendly than to actually be doing something that can really make a difference.

Perception is reality once again.

Gabby in QC said...

PS & OT: This is the title of Michel Vastel's (French language blog) latest thread:
"L’√®re des chefs jetables" =
"The Era of Throw-away Leaders"

Red Tory said...

Joanne — A lot of these initiatives are very poorly thought through and, yes, it is much a case of them appearing to be green or eco-aware rather than actually doing something productive to address the problem.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Red, again we agree.

BTW, there seems to be an unusual interest in this post emanating from federal government servers.

O.K. If you guys are reading this, WE DO NOT NEED A NATIONAL PLASTIC BAG BAN!!! Just forget about it. Please!!!

Just go back to dissing hockey captains or something.

Gabby in QC said...

"A lot of these initiatives are very poorly thought through"

I agree. For instance, one of my local radio guys was talking about this issue & informed listeners about some of the measures introduced to encourage lesser use of plastic bags. What was one of the incentives? Bonus Air Miles! Yippee! DON'T use plastic bags, but DO increase air travel, because that has no GHG consequences, right?

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Gabby - lol!!! I heard that pitch earlier, but didn't see the irony til you pointed it out just now!

Great catch. Hah!

Steph said...

Banning something as common and re-usable as plastic bags seems ridiculous to me not to mention overly controlling for a government initiative. Good thing I have many of them saved up in my closet. I knew they would come in handy some day!

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Good thing I have many of them saved up in my closet.

That Girl Guide training came in handy, eh? Always be prepared. ;)

Kunoichi said...

Remember when the plastic bags were introduced? They were supposed to be environmentally friendly, what with all the trees we were saving.

Yup, I remember that, too. That and, because they were so light and took up so much less space, they saved on fuel and shipping costs, too. Today's bags are so much thinner and lighter than the early ones, too.

Banning something as common and re-usable as plastic bags seems ridiculous to me

That's what I was thinking, too!

Personally, I bought a bunch of the re-usable bags at our local grocery store and use them for almost all our grocery trips (and elsewhere - they're a very handy size). I was seeing the grocery bags accumulate in my closet so quickly, I felt spending the $1 and a bit per bag was worth it. Our grocery store has a bin for recycling bags, but we never remember to bring our bags with us - and customers use the bin as a garbage can, anyways. Very gross! Instead, we've been using the bags for things like cat litter, or the one garbage can we've got that's small enough for them. It actually got to the point that we left our reusable bags at home so we could get more plastic bags, because we were running out. *L* It took almost a year.

Having worked as a cashier, though, I am not completely against some sort of limitations to bag use. You'd be amazed at what some people do! I totally understand that some people want their bags doubled or even tripled for heavier items. As someone who either walks or buses with our bags, I do it, too. I've had customers take their newly bagged groceries, then go to the end of another till and start triple bagging everything, even if the only thing in the bag is a loaf of bread! And then people wonder how the store could run out of bags so often!

Anonymous said...

"Does anyone else get the feeling they just make this stuff up as they go along?"

Yes...but it looks good, doesn't it??? It manipulates the public into thinking that someone is actually doing something because of the crisis of (excuse me here, I'm crying)...killing our earth...(sniff, sniff)....we owe it to the Lord to get rid of (sniff, sniff)...plastic bags....(sniff...don't worry, Lizzie May just passed me a tissue)....I think that if we really really cared about how evil we human beings are and how everything we do wrecks the planet, we should just stop...living....then, the planet would be saved.

After all, we stole this land from the dinosaurs, they were here first, and it really should go back to them. Dinosaur rights...who stands up for them???

raz
(a lot of conflicting issues in this crazy world, aren't there?..or is it just me?)

Anonymous said...

"Does anyone else get the feeling they just make this stuff up as they go along?"

Absolutely. And it works. Because here we are talking about plastic bags instead of the millions McGuinty and the
Liberals handed out to interest groups that has scandal written all over it.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Because here we are talking about plastic bags instead of the millions McGuinty and the Liberals handed out to interest groups that has scandal written all over it.

I can't believe it! I was just about to make that very point.

Exactly. Divert attention away from Slushgate.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Raz, that's a good point about the dinosaurs. I think we should give them Caledonia as a carbon credit offering.

thebruce said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
thebruce said...

Totally agreed... I never throw out my plastic bags, unless they're holding the garbage themselves. I've got a cupboard full of'em - grocery bags and big retail bags... you never know when you might need an enormous plastic bag :P

why ban something that's reusable, and more often than not already being reused, even in many cases already recycled and environmentally friendly?

*sigh*

Red Tory said...

Kunoichi — Here’s something that drives me up the wall regarding bags and that’s when you buy a 2 litre jug of milk and the cashier asks if you want it in a bag. Arghhh. No, I don’t want it in a bag! It’s got a handle on it for goodness sake. Sheesh.

I saw this the other day at the corner store. The person in question was just buying milk and nothing else and yet, when asked for a bag, said yes. I wanted to quiz the kid making the purchase about it and give her a bit of a hard time, but didn’t. I should have…

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Red, it's even worse when somebody buys a 4 litre bag of milk and then asks for a bag. So then you have 3 bags of milk within a larger bag within a grocery bag. That is crazy.

Mary said...

These have been the funniest posts that I have seen in a long time.
LOL at each and every one of them.
especially this one:

Raz, that's a good point about the dinosaurs. I think we should give them Caledonia as a carbon credit offering.

Gabby in QC said...

"... (sniff...don't worry, Lizzie May just passed me a tissue) ..."

What!?! Do you mean to tell me that Ms. May didn't tell you to "sleeve it"?

"BTW, there seems to be an unusual interest in this post emanating from federal government servers."

OK, for the techno-challenged, like me: how can you tell?
I wonder if "Rusty" (Min. Baird) is listening in ... hello, Minister!

Joanne (True Blue) said...

OK, for the techno-challenged, like me: how can you tell?

Sitemeter. ;)

Gabby in QC said...

Just read this over at ChuckerCanuck's. Could it explain the "unusual interest in this post emanating from federal government servers"?

"Early this morning, the Ottawa RCMP arrested a male employee from Environment Canada for Breach of Trust under the Criminal Code for leaking secret draft legislation."

Re: sitemeter. OK, but I'm even more in the dark. No problem, though, no need to explain further.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Gabby, click on the little green Sitemeter icon at the bottom right hand corner of my blog; way near the bottom.

PGP said...

Banning the plastic bags is again another misguided idea! It's Not for governments to be meddling with consumer preferences. If petro prices make these things an economic liability things will take care of themselves.

The only real problem with plastics as they are now used is in the recycling which is an area that can be easily improved!

Gabby in QC said...

" ... click on the little green Sitemeter icon ..."
Thanks.
Ohhh!?! So that's the way it's done.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Gabby - Yeah. Now click on details.

Anonymous said...

What!?! Do you mean to tell me that Ms. May didn't tell you to "sleeve it"?

....nope...but she only gave me one tissue, because I was only sniffling a little....two tissues are for the messy sniffles....:-)

raz

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Mary, thanks. You're one of my favourite readers. ;)

...nope...but she only gave me one tissue, because I was only sniffling a little....two tissues are for the messy sniffles....:-)

Raz - Priceless! Sheryl Crow would be so proud.

Kunoichi said...

...when you buy a 2 litre jug of milk and the cashier asks if you want it in a bag.

I totally understand what you mean - but that is one question I always made a point to ask. Also, if I've forgotten my re-usable bags, I will get my milk (4L, though - I never buy 2L sizes) double bagged. It's one thing if the customer is just going from door to their car, and that's about it. When we had a car, we never bagged our milk. Now, we either walk or bus, and those handles are not designed well to be carried for long distances, and a single bag isn't strong enough for a 4L bag for the distances we walk. Then there's older customers who's hands can't grip the handles, or others that live in walk ups...

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Kunoichi - Good point about the 4-litre bags. Yes, we should all be walking more than driving.

Sheesh! This environmentalist stuff is hard to figure out.