Plastic or no plastic, this is no longer a question

Someone tell me why this bag looks like it’s about to ask me to prom. Umesh R Desai via Unsplash

It’s disgraceful that we had to wait

On February 1, 2022, the Plastic Checkout Bag Ban came into full effect. “We are joining municipalities across the country in our move to ban plastic checkout bags and become a more sustainable city,” Bob Hawkins, the city councillor stated. “Regina residents made it clear that this is the right move. Over 10,000 residents took part in public engagement on this initiative, and 77 per cent indicated that the reduction of single-use plastic items is an important issue to them,” Hawkins went on.

The City of Regina’s Plastic Checkout Bag Ban is important because it is an initiative that is meant to remove the use of plastic bags in stores. Prior to the implementation of the ban, the city ensured that it reached out to businesses all across Regina to help them prepare for when the ban came into practice. There were details put together so that businesses could inform their customers of the change that would be coming. It was important for people to understand what was coming their way so that they may make informed decisions and be prepared when they are shopping.

Kim Onrait, the executive director of citizen services emphasized, “We are providing time for plastic bag users to get in the habit of bringing their own reusable bags to stores before the ban takes effect in February […] By switching to reusable bags or containers, the amount of plastic waste ending up in our landfill, in our recycling processing facility, and littered throughout our community will be reduced.” The City of Regina detailed the importance of minimizing plastic waste that has been entering the landfill for the longest time. This would thus extend the life of the landfill as the City of Regina identified. The goal here is to prevent plastic litter, and in a perfect world perhaps eradicate it.

According to the City of Regina’s website, the average Canadian uses 200-300 plastic
bags at checkouts every year. Reusing bags unfortunately is not the only solution due to the reality that many will still end up in landfills. The bylaw only applies to bags that are provided to customers at checkout, and does not include plastic bags that are provided for carrying fruits and
vegetables or produce that already comes wrapped in plastic. This proves that this should not be
the end of it. There is still more that needs to be done to reduce the amount of plastic being used.

According to the Government of Canada, Canadians use almost 15 billion plastic bags each year. Canadians also use 57 million straws every day. About one third of plastic in Canada is created for packaging or single use needs, and 2.8 million tonnes of plastic end up in Canadian landfills each year. My hope is for the ban to extend to other aspects of day-to-day life. It is unreasonable for fruit to come packaged in plastic.

On one hand, we are doing something that is helping alleviate the dangers we have created through our landfills. But on the other hand, the damage continues if produce wrapped in plastic and plastic bags meant for carrying produce within stores are allowed. It’s quite a puzzling dichotomy.

When I went to Superstore last weekend, the bylaw was in full effect. However at the
Safeway in my neighbourhood, plastic had been banned for quite some time. They provided paper bags or cotton bags that can be purchased. I am satisfied that the ban is being upheld everywhere else; this is exactly what the city needs. For the longest time, corporations have gaslighted us into thinking that it is up to the ordinary person to solve the issue of environmental catastrophe that is looming over us. The reality is that it is not up to us, it is up to the multi-billion-dollar, capitalist, money hungry corporations to solve the issue that they created. You can recycle as much as you want, go plastic free, go vegan, go zero waste, but none of that will help alleviate the harm that we have inflicted on our planet because it is not up to you to fix it, and it would be impossible to do so because for one, you are not a billionaire. All we can do as citizens is try our best given our circumstances.

I am astonished that it took as long as it did to implement this bylaw. I am not having a hard time with the bylaw because I have always carried reusable bags every time I’ve gone out since I was 16. It has always been important to me. I try as hard as I can to decrease the amount of plastic I use. I made the switch at 16 to reusable metal straws and carrying my water bottle with me everywhere I go so that I do not have to use plastic. This is absolutely the step in the right direction.

However, I can’t help but feel like the city is just putting a Band Aid on a wound that has been festering since the start of humanity. It seems like they are throwing a bone for us to chew. “Here! Now you can stop bothering us about climate change and the environment!” It seems like a ploy to make people think this is enough, that this is all that is needs to be done. But the reality of our world shows that the work around climate change is continuous and lifelong.


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