Being one of the people who brought a screening of "Bag It" to our community and who is very anti-plastic (have you noticed?), I was deeply disappointed. So for the first time in my life, I e-mailed all the members of City Council this morning. It was partly in response to an article in yesterday's paper.
To put it lightly, I'm really, seriously disappointed that people are so fucking short-sighted (yes, I just used the F-word). Banning plastic bags is a very small step and compared to other environmental steps we SHOULD be taking, really will make a small difference. But it will get people thinking about it. And working on it. And maybe help get them more educated.
Here's my letter:
Dear Mayor and Councilors;
I am deeply disappointed (personally, by each and every one of you except Ms. MacQuarrie) that you decided to not draft a bag ban bylaw. I was at the city council meeting where the bag ban bylaw was suggested and all but two of the councilors were in favour of seeing the ban pursued - the mayor was actually interested in including those annoying coffee lids and other culprits as well. We were almost all at the screening of "Bag It" in the fall (with the exception of Mr. Branco who clearly is not interested in being educated on the subject of environmental degradation). It was clear to all of us there that night that plastic is detrimental to our environment and that even when "recycled", plastic is merely "downcycled" but is still not removable from our environment. This is fact. Plastic is forever. And the fact that this material that lasts forever is used to make an item that is used for 10 minutes - sometimes less - is insane.
Take this into consideration - what did we use before 1974 when plastic shopping bags were introduced? My grandmother always carried her own bag. And people take their own bags to stores now - that's all I ever do. I never take a plastic bag, so if Safeway is concerned about shoplifting because of people bringing their own bags, they have to up the security already because that's all that some of us do. Stores can still provide paper or reusable bags for a fee. Not providing plastic bags will not cause people to drive to other communities to shop. We will not be killing business. We may be slightly inconveniencing them for the sake of our environment and our food supply (because after it is in the ground, it is in our food), but not killing business for sure.
I hope you understand that many Wetaskiwin businesses are also interested in protecting the environment and are taking steps to reduce their impact (The Iron Boar now has cardboard take-out containers and No Frills charges for bags, just to name two). Those that aren't will continue on many, many levels to degrade our environment just so they can make more money (or THINK they ca). Unless our government (read: YOU) steps in to stop the menial degradation of our environment by such things as plastic bags, those masses who don't understand the problem (or simply don't care), will continue to do what is convenient, and will continue to introduce plastic to places where it is dangerous. This is one area where the individual people or businesses cannot be relied upon to do the right thing for the environment - primarily because most people don't even realize it's a problem. And Mr. Branco, who decided NOT to attend the screening of "Bag It" and has decided he doesn't care what is happening to our environment and apparently doesn't WANT to know, is throwing around a lot of ridiculous words like "communist" and "dictatorship" to bully the rest of the council into letting this one slide. After all, it's easier to let it slide, isn't it? Easier to keep the status quo than to make a stand and make a difference.
I am very disappointed that you, the city council, who know of the dangers that plastics pose to the environment, could not take this very simple step to do the right thing - and we're not even talking about passing the bylaw, but merely writing it and having a real community-based debate. I am particularly disappointed since several of you were very enthusiastic about it 6 months ago. Patricia MacQuarrie, of course, has to be excluded from this comment as she was the only one who voted FOR it.
I encourage you all to continue to educate yourselves on the topic - maybe see the movie again (it is available at the library). Don't just rely on me to tell you what is wrong with using plastic bags, or trust others who assure you it's okay. Research it yourself!
Oh ... and just go down to Wal-Mart (Denham Landfill as one Facebook reader called it) as the snow is melting and look at the detritus that is scattered on the property. And THEN tell me we don't need a bag ban. People will continue to use bags if they are available - because people are lazy. But when the bags aren't available, they will remember to bring their own.