Single-use plastic bag ban coming for all of Canada soon. (Canadian Press photo/Paul Chaisson)

Single-use plastic bag ban coming for all of Canada soon. (Canadian Press photo/Paul Chaisson)

In Our View: Beginning of the end for plastic era

We need to wean ourselves off disposable plastic

The ban on single-use plastics is going to be a quiet revolution for Canada.

A dozen years from now, teenagers will watch old TV programs and ask what everyone is carrying from the mall, or why their takeout containers look so weird.

As of the end of next year, plastic bags and cutlery and Styrofoam takeout containers will be banned.

It’s going to be a massive change. There are doubtless going to be kinks to work out – plastic straws are to remain available to people with disabilities, for example, but will every restaurant keep stocking them?

Many stores and restaurants are getting ahead of this coming legislative change, which is why there has been a flurry of sudden innovations from cardboard tags on bags of bread and various substitute straws, to the return of paper bags and cardboard burger containers at stores and restaurants.

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For decades, environmental activists have been trying to encourage people to use cloth or reusable plastic bags when shopping. Many people did, but disposable plastic bags remained cheap and ubiquitous. They were always there if you’d forgotten your reusable bags at home.

Recycling can deal with some waste, but inevitably a significant amount escapes and winds up in landfills, drifting around streets, and in waterways and oceans.

Humans have created a strata of plastic that will show up in the geological record millions of years from now, and they did it in just a century.

It’s high time people weaned themselves off plastic. Getting rid of bags and cutlery and takeout containers is just a start.

Making society less dependent on the disposable should be our long term goal. Hopefully Canada’s leaders will keep moving in that direction if people give them a push.

– M.C.

EditorialsIn Our ViewLangleyPlastic Bag Ban