Stan (Stan’s Stance, May 28 edition of the Labradorian, ‘To Ban or Not?’) is right: if you’re taking plastic bags from the grocery store, you’re part of the problem too. To say the plastic bag problem is caused by litterbugs is passing the problem off on someone else. It’s time to stop blaming other people for the mess, and to step up and do something ourselves. We should stop this pollution at its source: just stop using the plastic bags, period.
Not all plastic in the environment is attributable to the despicable act of littering. According to Municipalities NL, “almost 50 per cent of all windborne litter escaping from landfills is plastic, much of it single-use plastic bags that end up tangled in trees or floating in our inland and coastal waters.” All those bags you’ve thrown out—where have they gone?
The five communities of Nunatsiavut and Cartwright have banned plastic bags from their town, and Mary’s Harbour is now doing the same. Perhaps they recognized that doing so would not only curb unsightly litter and dump fly-aways, but also reduce the amount of plastic entering the water systems, where it ends up in our country foods and in our tap water. How much plastic do we have in our bodies here in Labrador, where seafood is part of our traditional diet?
I, for one, would like to see a ban on single-use plastic shopping bags. The Town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay should stand up with our coastal communities and be a leader in environmental stewardship and get rid of them.
But why leave it all to the town? Local businesses should stop giving them out voluntarily instead of waiting for a ban. It’s not a radical concept—Costco doesn’t give out single-use plastic bags, and they’ve got no shortage of customers. Supermarket chains all over the world have stopped giving them out on their own accord.
Better yet, the people of Happy Valley-Goose Bay should similarly stand up against the use of single-use shopping bags. Make one simple change and refuse them at the cash. Forget your reusables? Ask for a cardboard box, or just carry your items out in your hands if it’s not much. People managed just fine before plastic shopping bags came around, and the cities, towns, and yes, entire countries where they have banned the bag are doing just fine. In fact, they’re doing all the better for it.
I’ve started a Boomerang Bags group here in town. Boomerang Bags are handmade cloth bags made from reclaimed materials, and are given out for free at stores and markets. If you’ve forgotten your bag, there’s one for you to use. You can keep it and use it again or bring it back another time, if you would just like to borrow it. If anyone else would like to join us in reducing both plastic and textile waste and have fun with new friends at the same time, look us up on Facebook: Boomerang Bags.
Happy Valley-Goose Bay